Belarus Votes to Give Up Non-nuclear Status, Host Russian Forces; ‘Enemy’ Tank Column Heads to Kyiv

Citing “aggressive statements” by NATO and hard monetary sanctions, Putin issued a directive to extend the readiness of Russia’s nuclear weapons, elevating fears that the invasion of Ukraine might result in nuclear warfare, whether or not by design or mistake.

The Russian chief is “potentially putting in play forces that, if there’s a miscalculation, could make things much, much more dangerous,” mentioned a senior U.S. protection official, talking on situation of anonymity to debate quickly unfolding navy operations.

Belarusians voted Monday to permit the nation to host nuclear weapons and Russian forces completely, outcomes confirmed, a part of a bundle of constitutional reforms that additionally prolonged the rule of chief Alexander Lukashenko.

The referendum was held Sunday because the ex-Soviet nation’s neighbour Ukraine is beneath assault from Russian troops and delegations from Moscow and Kyiv are anticipated to fulfill for talks on the Belarusian border.

Central Election Fee head Igor Karpenko mentioned 65.16 % of referendum individuals voted in favour of the amendments and 10.07 % voted in opposition to, Russian information companies reported.

In response to Karpenko, voter turnout stood at 78.63 %.

To come back into drive, the amendments have to obtain at the very least 50 % of the vote with a turnout of over half the citizens.

Lukashenko, who has been in energy since 1994, promised the referendum within the wake of historic protests in opposition to his disputed re-election in 2020.

By amending the structure Lukashenko, 67, follows within the footsteps of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who in 2020 oversaw a vote on constitutional modifications that made it doable for him to stay in energy till 2036.

The constitutional modifications additionally grant immunity to former leaders for crimes dedicated throughout their time period in workplace.

Russia is a key ally of Belarus and final week Lukashenko allowed Russian troops to make use of Belarusian territory to invade Ukraine from the north.

Belarus inherited quite a few Soviet nuclear warheads following the break-up of the USSR in 1991, in keeping with the Nuclear Menace Initiative suppose tank, which it then transferred to Russia.

Lukashenko first floated doable modifications after a presidential vote in August 2020 sparked unprecedented demonstrations that had been met with a brutal crackdown.

He claimed a sixth time period within the vote and imprisoned main opposition figures, whereas his most important rival Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was pressured to hunt refuge in neighbouring Lithuania.

The amendments would reinstate presidential time period limits — beforehand ditched by Lukashenko — to 2 five-year phrases, however they might solely apply to the subsequent elected president.

Had been Lukashenko to place himself ahead as a candidate for re-election in 2025, he might stay in energy for an extra ten years.

Tikhanovskaya’s workplace in Lithuania has hit out on the vote, saying {that a} sweeping crackdown on any dissenting voices for the reason that 2020 election made any actual dialogue of the proposals inconceivable.

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