Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko in Saint Petersburg, Russia June 25, 2022. Sputnik/Mikhail Metzel/Kremlin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY.

Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko has accused Ukraine of launching rocket attacks on his country. “We are provoked. About three days ago, maybe more, an attempt was made to attack military targets in Belarus from Ukraine,” Lukashenko said on Saturday, according to the state news agency Belta, in a speech marking the country’s upcoming Independence Day.

“Thank God our anti-aircraft systems intercepted all missiles fired by Ukrainian troops,” he said. “As I said more than a year ago, we have no intention of fighting in Ukraine,” he added.

At the same time, the pro-Russian president of the ex-Soviet republic threatened the West. If there is an attack on Belarus, his country will react immediately, said Lukashenko. If Gomel is attacked, the Mosyr refinery, Luninets airport or Brest, “the answer will come immediately, in just a second”.

“Less than a month ago I gave orders to the armed forces units to target what can now be called decision centers in their capitals,” said the 67-year-old. He didn’t explain exactly what he meant by that. He added: “Don’t touch us – and we won’t touch you.”

Regardless of the fact that Russia itself attacked Ukraine, Moscow and its ally Minsk repeatedly present themselves as victims of supposedly hostile policies by the West, and by NATO in particular.

Belarus borders Ukraine to the south and is a close ally of Russia. In view of massive Western sanctions, the government in Minsk is heavily dependent on Russia, both militarily and economically.

Belarus has repeatedly provided diplomatic and logistical support for the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, and attacks on Ukraine have also been carried out from Belarus. From there, the Russian armed forces tried to take the capital Kyiv before withdrawing at the end of March due to Ukrainian resistance.

Since the end of February there have been fears that Belarus could officially join the war on Russia’s side. Lukashenko has already admitted that in the first weeks of the war, Russian rockets were fired at Ukraine from Belarusian territory.

At its two-day summit in Madrid, NATO decided to significantly strengthen the eastern flank and to start the process of admitting Finland and Sweden.