Belarus will fight alongside Russia if Moscow invades Ukraine, Alexander Lukashenko said on Friday, even as Russia's top diplomat said that the Kremlin had no intention of going to war.
Belarus' president said that he would welcome "hundreds of thousands" of Russian soldiers into his country if either Belarus or Russia are attacked.
"If there is an aggression against Belarus, there will be hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers. Who, together with hundreds of thousands of Belorussians, will defend this land," he said.
But like Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said on Friday that Russia "doesn't want a war", Lukashenko warned that if there was a conflict "there would be no winners."
"Everyone will lose everything," he said.
Moscow and Minsk are key allies, with Putin providing key support to Lukashenko during the protests that followed his disputed re-election in 2020.
The United States and NATO have warned that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine after 100,000 Russian troops were massed on the border with the country in recent weeks.
Russia has repeatedly denied that it plans to invade Ukraine, from which it annexed Crimea in 2014. In the east of Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists control swathes of territory around the cities of Donetsk and Luhansk.
Moscow has demanded assurances that Ukraine be kept out of NATO, which the Kremlin considers to be a broad anti-Russian military alliance, and cease to deploy weapons near Russia's borders.