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Lukashenko could use Russian troops’ presence to blackmail Western powers – opposition’s Tikhanovskaya.

Censor.NET reports citing Ukrinform.

The statement came as Tikhanovskaya was addressing a group of about a thousand local Belarusian community activists who came for the meeting from all across the U.S. Sunday.

"The regime could use the presence of Russian troops to blackmail its western neighbours and Ukraine. There is a lot of talk about it now," she said. "Threats could vary."

At the same time, she believes the presence of Russian forces is posing no threat to democratic change in Belarus. "Such exercises are held rather often, so I see no clear threat to Belarus, although I’m no expert in these matters," she added.

Read more: Ukraine parliament head calls on U.S. lawmakers to pursue sanctions to prevent Nord Stream 2 launch

Asked by Ukrinform whether the Belarusian opposition feels support coming from Ukraine, she said: "Ukrainians stand with us, Ukrainians support us. And the fact that they accept so many resettled persons (migrants), eased legislation to offer people the opportunity to get a job and start their own business is already proof of great support.

At the same time, in her opinion, Ukraine is quite cautious in expressing its political position, as Lukashenko resorted to his own tactics, which is blackmail.

"We feel this support, we have high-level communication with Ukraine officials, and we will gradually strengthen these ties," Tikhanovskaya added.

As reported, in September 2021, a large-scale joint Russian-Belarusian military exercise Zapad 2021 (West 2021) will be held in Belarus. Experts see the drill as one of the main ways for Russia to absorb the neighbouring country’s independence, also expressing concerns as regards Ukraine’s security.

Read more: Ukraine parliament head calls on U.S. lawmakers to pursue sanctions to prevent Nord Stream 2 launch

The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Ruslan Khomchak, said the upcoming joint exercises are posing a potential threat to Ukraine.

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