Belarus leader and Putin ally Lukashenko to visit China

Feb 25, 2023, 4:42 PM | Updated: Feb 26, 2023, 6:54 am

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin a...

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko attends a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence, outside Moscow, Russia, Friday, Feb. 17, 2023. (Vladimir Astapkovich, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

(Vladimir Astapkovich, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

BEIJING (AP) — Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus and a close ally of the Russian leader, will visit Beijing this week, China’s Foreign Ministry said, as U.S. concerns grow that China is considering providing military aid to Russia.

Spokesperson Hua Chunying said Lukashenko is due to visit Tuesday through Thursday, but gave no details about his agenda.

Belarus has strongly backed Moscow and allowed its territory to be used as a staging ground for the initial invasion of Ukraine a year ago.

Lukashenko has been Belarus’ only president since the position was created in 1994, and crushed 2020 protests over his disputed reelection in a vote that the opposition and Western countries regard as fraudulent.

The visit comes as top U.S. officials repeated warnings to China against providing military aid to Russia in its war on Ukraine, saying that would bring heavy consequences.

CIA Director William Burns repeated those earlier statements in an interview due to be broadcast on American channel CBS on Sunday, saying, “We’re confident that the Chinese leadership is considering the provision of lethal equipment.”

However, Burns added, “We also don’t see that a final decision has been made yet, and we don’t see evidence of actual shipments of lethal equipment.”

Providing such aid “would be a very risky and unwise bet,” he said.

Beijing claims to have a neutral stance in the war that began one year ago, but has also said it has a “no limits friendship” with Russia and has refused to criticize Moscow’s invasion or even call it that. It has accused the West of provoking the conflict and “fanning the flames” by providing Ukraine with defensive arms.

It has accused the U.S. of smearing it over the military aid allegations and reiterated that it seeks only peace between Russia and Ukraine.

Beijing on Friday issued a proposal calling for a cease-fire and peace talks between Ukraine and Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy cautiously welcomed China’s involvement — but said success would depend on actions not words.

The plan released by China’s Foreign Ministry mainly reiterated long-held positions, and analysts said Beijing would be an unlikely broker given its close ties to Russia and unwavering stance over the conflict.

However, some observers warned that Ukraine and its allies need to tread carefully, saying that rejection of what China sees as its peace overture could move Beijing closer toward providing arms to Russia instead.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is believed to be preparing to visit Russia sometime in the coming months.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


moore redmond washington...

Associated Press

U.S. Supreme Court rules against Redmond couple challenging foreign income tax

The court ruled in the case of Charles and Kathleen Moore, of Redmond, Washington after they previously challenged a $15,000 tax bill.

19 hours ago

Image:The New York Giants' Willie Mays poses for a photo during baseball spring training in 1972. M...

Associated Press

Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ dies at 93

Willie Mays, whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest players, has died. He was 93.

2 days ago

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

4 days ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

4 days ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

5 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

5 days ago

Belarus leader and Putin ally Lukashenko to visit China