Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko held talks in Minsk on Saturday, where they reportedly discussed military cooperation and regional security.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Saturday that Russia and Belarus are prepared for peace, but that Ukraine appeared unwilling to negotiate.
Speaking at the meeting, Lukashenko stated that “if they want to fight till the end, that’s their business, their right”, adding that “for the moment neither I nor our special services see them willing to hold proper negotiations.”
Although Lukashenko has consistently said he will not enter the war in Ukraine, Moscow has in the past used Belarus as a staging post for its invasion.
Russia and Belarus are formally part of a “union state” and are closely allied economically and militarily.
Meanwhile, Russia continues to move troops to the front line – dashing hopes that Moscow could de-escalate the conflict.
The Ukrainian Armed Forces reported that, since Friday, the Kremlin’s forces have fired five missiles and carried out dozens of airstrikes targeting Ukraine’s military positions and civilian infrastructure.
According to the UK Defence Ministry, Russia is likely planning to encircle the town of Bakhmut, where fierce trench warfare reminiscent of World War I has been going on for the past few weeks.
The capture of this town would have limited operational value according to experts but it could allow Moscow to then threaten the strategic cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk.