Putin says Russia has set up ‘reserve police force’ to help Belarus’ Lukashenko if needed

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The comments triggered a response from Poland, which demanded Moscow jettison any such plans to intervene

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“We have of course certain obligations towards Belarus, and the question Lukashenko raised was whether we would provide the necessary help,” Putin said.“I told him Russia would fulfill all its obligations. Alexander Grigorivich asked me to create a reserve police force and I have done that. But we agreed this would not be used unless the situation got out of control.”

Belarus has been was plunged into turmoil following an Aug. 9 election, which the opposition says was rigged to extend Lukashenko’s 26-year rule. Moscow and Minsk have even proclaimed a “union state”, complete with a Soviet-style red flag. But Lukashenko has had a difficult personal relationship with Putin and is sometimes viewed as a truculent and erratic ally in Moscow.Nevertheless, Russia has so far taken clear steps to help shore up the Minsk authorities, such as sending journalists to staff state TV after workers quit in protest against what they described as orders to broadcast propaganda.


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