Zelensky Warns Belarusians: Don't Let Putin Drag You Into War

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Sunday night warned Belarusians not to allow Russian President Vladimir Putin to drag their country into his war against Ukraine.

"You are being drawn into the war. The Kremlin has already decided everything for you," Zelensky said during a video address on Sunday night. "But you are not slaves and cannon fodder. You don't have to die."

Zelensky suggested that Belarus was being drawn into the war more actively than at the start of Putin's invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24.

"Your lives are worthless to them," he continued. "And you cannot let anyone decide what awaits you next."

 Volodymyr Zelensky Warns Belarus
In this combination image, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky holds a press conference with the heads of state of France, Germany and Romania, at Mariinsky Palace in Kyiv, on June 16, 2022 and Vladimir Putin (L) shakes hands with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko during their meeting in Saint Petersburg, on June 25, 2022. Getty

The Ukrainian leader's remarks came after Putin told Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko Saturday that Russia will deliver missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads to Belarus in the coming months, Reuters reported.

The news agency reported that during a meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, Lukashenko told Putin that he was concerned about the "aggressive" and "confrontational" actions of neighboring countries Poland and Lithuania.

Lukashenko also reportedly asked Putin for assistance in response to NATO-led nuclear-armed flights near the Belarusian border.

Putin said such a response wasn't necessary, but that Russia would transfer "Iskander-M tactical missile systems to Belarus, which can use both ballistic and cruise missiles, both in conventional and nuclear versions."

Putin said the details and logistics of delivering the weapons would be discussed by the defense ministers of Russia and Belarus.

Russia will also help Belarus upgrade its Su-25 fighter jets to make them capable of carrying nuclear weapons, Putin said.

"This modernization should be carried out in aircraft factories in Russia and the training of personnel should start in accordance with this," he said in a broadcast on Russian television.

Lukashenko is a close ally of Putin, and Belarus has allowed Putin to station Russian troops in the country and conduct large-scale military drills.

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on its social media channels that Belarus sent up to 20 railcars with ammunition to Russia to aid Putin in his war against Ukraine.

"No signs of the enemy forming offensive groups have been recorded in the Volyn and Polissia areas. According to available information, the leadership of the Republic of Belarus continues to provide military support to the Russian Federation," it said in a statement.

"In particular, another consignment of ammunition of up to 20 rail cars has been sent to the Belgorod region," the statement said.

Zelensky, during his video address on Sunday, accused Putin of sowing "hatred" between Ukraine and Belarus.

"And that is why the Russian leadership wants to involve you, all Belarusians, in the war. It wants to sow hatred between us. A lot depends on the common people of Belarus now."

He added: "I know that you may not take part in this war. Your lives belong only to you, and not to someone in the Kremlin."

Newsweek has contacted the foreign ministries of Russia and Belarus.