NEW YORK (Dispatches) -- Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei accused Western countries on Saturday of attempting to sow "chaos and anarchy” in the former Soviet republic, which has been rocked by street protests since an election last month.
"We are seeing attempts to destabilize the situation in the country,” he told the United Nations General Assembly in a video statement. "Interference in our internal affairs, sanctions and other restrictions on Belarus will have the opposite effect, and are harmful for absolutely everyone.”
Western-backed riots have hit Belarus since President Alexander Lukashenko was declared the landslide winner of the Aug. 9 election.
The United States, Britain and Canada are expected to impose sanctions soon on Belarusian individuals over what those governments view as a rigged election and violence against peaceful protesters, sources have told Reuters.
"Statements brimming with cynicism have been made by a series of our Western colleagues about their alleged concern for Belarussian sovereignty and well-being,” Makei told the United Nations. "In actual fact they are nothing other than attempts to bring chaos and anarchy to our country.”
French President Emmanuel Macron was quoted Sunday as saying that that "Lukashenko must go.”
The EU on Thursday said Lukashenko’s inauguration lacked "democratic legitimacy” and refused to recognize him as president.
Brussels is reviewing its relations with the country, the bloc’s diplomatic chief has said.
EU ministers decided in principle last month to impose sanctions against the government, but Cyprus has been blocking approval until the bloc agrees on similar measures against Turkey over gas exploration in the eastern Mediterranean.
Lukashenko has 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.
He has also accused the U.S. of organizing the post-election protests in Belarus through social media platforms.
Despite its population of only 9.5 million, Belarus matters to Russia as a buffer state against NATO and a conduit for Russian exports of oil and gas.
Putin recently granted Lukashenko a $1.5 billion loan, and the two countries held "Slavic Brotherhood” defense exercises in Belarus. As part of those drills, Russian paratroopers parachuted into Belarus.