Ukraine: Russian Missiles Launched From Belarus Despite Country Hosting Upcoming Peace Talks
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Belarus has been accused of allowing Russia to launch missile strikes on Ukraine from within its own borders, despite reportedly pledging not to do so while peace talks were taking place.
Yesterday, February 27, it was reported that at least one Iskander short-range ballistic missile was launched from within Belarus, targeting an airport in Zhytomyr, a city to the west of Kyiv.
The missile launch came just hours after it was reported that peace talks were set to take place between a Russian delegation and Ukrainian delegation on the border of Ukraine and Belarus, at the Pripyat river.
President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed the talks had been arranged following a phone conversation with Belarussian president Alexander Lukashenko, and claimed Lukashenko had promised to keep all planes, helicopters and missiles stationed in his country on the ground during the Ukrainian delegation's travel to and from the talks, as well as during the negotiations, per NPR.
'I had a very substantive conversation with Alexander Lukashenko,' Zelensky said. 'I do not want missiles, planes, helicopters to fly to Ukraine from Belarus. I do not want troops to go to Ukraine from Belarus.'
However the Ukrainian president warned that despite agreeing to talks, he was skeptical they would make any progress towards a ceasefire.
'I will be honest, as always: I do not really believe in the outcome of this meeting' he said, adding: 'but let them try, to make sure that no citizen of Ukraine has any doubt that I, as a president, have not tried to stop the war.'
Zelensky also made clear that both sides had agreed to participate in the talks with 'no preconditions,' and pledged he would not give up ground to Russia in the wake of its unprovoked invasion.
Putin had previously announced his willingness to send a delegation for talks in Gomel, Belarus - an offer that was rejected by Zelensky, who said talks must be held in a neutral location.
Belarus is widely regarded as Russia's primary ally in Europe, with Lukashenko allowing Russia to station troops and other military equipment in the country.
A significant proportion of Russia's invading force has entered Ukraine from the country's northern border with Belarus, after Russian troops participating in training exercises in the country remained following their official conclusion last week.
In response to Belarus' facilitation of the invasion the EU yesterday announced a range of sanctions targeting the country's key industries.
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