By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
MINSK/MOSCOW/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – The authoritarian president of Belarus has been rushed to a hospital in Moscow after announcing that Russia started placing nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil, opposition sources say.
Alexander Lukashenko was taken to the Central Clinical Hospital of Russia’s capital “in critical condition” recently, said Valery Tsepkalo, a prominent Belarusian opposition leader.
Tsepkalo, a well-informed former ambassador to the United States, said the hospitalization followed Lukashenko’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin and his remarks about Russia placing nuclear weapons in Belarus.
“According to the information we have, which needs additional confirmation, Lukashenko, after meeting with Putin behind closed doors, was urgently taken to the Central Clinical Hospital of Moscow, where he is now located. The best specialists were sent to return him from a condition assessed by doctors as critical,” Tsepkalo added in a statement monitored by Worthy News.
“His blood was purified, Lukashenko’s condition was proclaimed not transportable.”
He noted that the “organized measures” to save a man described by critics as “Europe’s last dictator” were to “ward off speculation about the possible participation of the Kremlin in his poisoning. It does not matter whether he returns to working condition or not; doctors warn of a possible recurrence of relapses.”
Tsepkalo suggested that authorities try “to hide the real condition of the patient, which is still critical. Previous cases of faltering health were also attempted to be silenced. And in this case, in order not to arouse suspicion, his plane was even sent to Minsk” while Lukashenko remained in Moscow, he said.
Neither Moscow nor Minsk confirmed the latest reported health scare. Before his reported hospitalization, Lukashenko told the Eurasian Economic Forum in Moscow on May 24 that Russia had begun moving nuclear tactical weapons into Belarus under a recent bilateral agreement.
“We had to prepare storage facilities and the rest over there [in Belarus]. We’ve done all of that. This is why the relocation of nuclear munitions began,” Lukashenko said. Asked if the weapons had already arrived, he answered: “Maybe. I will go and take a look.”
His remarks came hours after Russian and Belarusian military officials signed a pact allowing Moscow to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. The agreement marked a shift in the Kremlin’s atomic posture that could raise the stakes of any instability in Belarus, critics said.
The plan to deploy tactical nuclear weapons on foreign soil is Russia’s first since 1991. Russia defended the decision saying “it is provoked” by the West, which supports Ukraine in its war against invading Russian forces.
Moscow said it would maintain control over the tactical nuclear weapons. They may be launched on Iskander-M missiles or from Su-25 planes, which Belarus has in its arsenal and could reach several capitals. Belarus borders Ukraine and three member states of the NATO military alliance.
The United States also has about 100 such weapons stationed at bases around Europe, according to sources familiar with the situation.
The transfer will further align Russia and Belarus’ militaries as Russia seeks a closer alliance with Minsk, which some say could lead to Belarus losing sovereignty. The Russian defense minister, Sergei Shoigu, said the two countries would look for other ways to integrate their militaries.
That decision came as Russia braced itself for a potential Ukrainian counterattack that could put Moscow on the defensive in its 15-month-old war.
Lukashenko’s subsequent talks with Putin aimed to discuss further military, political, and economic cooperation between Belarus and Russia.
His stay in Moscow came after questions about Lukashenko’s whereabouts for weeks.
He did not appear publicly or at official events since Victory Day celebrations in Moscow and Minsk on May 9.
Independent journalists reported that late May 13, Lukashenko’s convoy, accompanied by a State Road Patrol special unit, arrived at the Republican Clinical Medicine Centre of the Presidential Administration.
With concerns mounting about his health, exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya said the opposition should be “well prepared for every scenario.”
Yet Lukashenko, 68, announced on May 23 that he was absent from public space due to illness “but was not going to die.”
Amid the uncertainty about Belarus’ political future, neighboring Poland distanced itself from claims by Russian state media that “Polish General Skrzypczak confirmed information about the preparation of a coup in Belarus by the West.”
Waldemar Skrzypczak allegedly said: “Poland is preparing for an armed coup in Belarus and to participate in supporting this by military means.”
Even Lukashenko and Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov went along with the media storm, which the Belarusian leader saw as conforming to the danger from the West. He described the Polish general as “sick” and said he was ready for a possible uprising in Belarus.
Spokesman Peskov agreed, calling Poland an “enemy state” and accusing Warsaw of “hysterical Russophobia” and intentional interference. He asserted that Russia would protect Belarus from “such a blatant threat.”
However, Skrzypczak merely stressed that there would be an uprising in Belarus for which Poland needed to prepare. He was not saying Poland or the West would be involved in an armed coup in Belarus.
Asked by the interviewer of Poland’s Polsat News television what the response should be if an “internal war” breaks out in Belarus, Skrzypczak replied: “We should prepare for it now! […] I think it’s now time to prepare for it. It will happen.”
He praised non-Western forces entering Russia from Ukraine and hoped this would spread into Belarus.
The general, who is retired, predicted that if Ukraine’s counter-offensive against Russia is successful, Belarusian units within Ukraine’s army will continue fighting inside Belarus.
However, the Polish defense ministry said Skrzypczak’s remarks were “merely the private opinion” of the retired general. The ministry told Germany’s broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) that General Skrzyczak was “not an advisor to the ministry of defense and did not hold any positions there.”
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