Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has ordered the complete closure of the country’s 1,084-km border with Ukraine, claiming that weapons were being smuggled from Kiev to Minsk.
“I am astounded by the number of weapons being smuggled from Ukraine to Belarus,” Xinhua news agency quoted Lukashenko as saying at a ceremony marking the country’s 30 years of independence following the collapse of the Soviet Union.
“This is why I’ve instructed the border guard to fully close the border with Ukraine,” he said, adding that only civilians will be able to enter Belarus.
“We will not take all the others as prisoners,” he said.
Without providing evidence, Lukashenko claimed that his security services had uncovered a foreign-backed terrorist sleeper cell plotting to oust him from power, the BBC reported.
“They have crossed the line. We cannot forgive them.”
The President also alleged the weapons were being shipped to terrorist cells funded by Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, and the US.
Belarus shares a border with Ukraine in the south. It borders Poland and Lithuania in the west, Latvia in the north, and Russia in the east.
He said he would confront Germany’s Angela Merkel and other leaders about the claims.
Ukraine denied interfering in Belarus’s domestic affairs and said closing the 1,084-km (674-mile) border would make its people “suffer”.
The move deepens a standoff between Belarus and outside powers.
In May his government prompted international outrage when it forced a Rayanair flight to land and arrested of a government critic who was onboard.
In return, Western countries imposed sanctions on Belarus.