MINSK (Dispatches) -- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has announced plans to put the nation’s military on high alert as well as close its borders with Poland and Lithuania amid rising hostility from the U.S. and its European Union allies.
"We are forced to withdraw troops from the streets, put the army on high alert and close the state border on the west, primarily with Lithuania and Poland,” Lukashenko declared Thursday during a women’s forum.
"I don’t want my country to be at war. Moreover, I don’t want Belarus and Poland, Lithuania to turn into a theater of military operations where our issues will not be resolved,” he said.
"Therefore, today in front of this hall of the most beautiful, advanced, patriotic people I want to appeal to the peoples of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine — stop your crazy politicians, don’t let war break out!”
The Belarusian president pointed out that the country’s border with Ukraine would be strengthened as well.
The U.S. and the EU have been contemplating imposing sanctions against Belarusian officials for alleged vote-rigging and their response to violent riots following an election in which Lukashenko defeated his rivals by 80 percent of the vote.
The European Parliament on Thursday overwhelmingly passed a resolution discarding the official election results and proclaiming that it would not recognize Lukashenko as the legitimate president once his current term expires November 5.
The hostile move provoked a strong reaction from Belarus’ foreign ministry.
"We are disappointed that the European Parliament, positioning itself as a serious, objective and democratic structure, could not find the political will to look beyond its nose, overcome one-sidedness and not become a hostage to conventional clichés.”
Lukashenko accused the U.S. last week of organizing the post-election protests in Belarus through social media platforms.
He said the Americans, acting through centers in Poland and the Czech Republic, were controlling social media channels — particularly the Russian-designed messaging app Telegram — that are playing a leading role in the unrest.
The Belarusian president further underlined that the U.S. interference was effectively a dry run for a future attempt to destabilize Russia.
Earlier this week, a Lithuanian defense ministry statement said the U.S. would deploy 500 troops to the country to engage in war games near the border with Belarus.
The U.S. made the announcement while commending Lithuania’s investment on military warfare as more than a dozen Abrams tanks crossed the Lithuanian border from neighboring Poland on Saturday afternoon.