Belarus Russia flag
© REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
Vladimir Putin's spokesman has rubbished speculation that Moscow is either conducting or is preparing to carry out some sort of military intervention in neighboring Belarus, with which it has mutual-assistance agreements.

Dmitry Peskov said that while Russia is treaty-bound to assist Minsk, the conditions for such support don't currently exist.

Both countries form a Union State, under a 1999 agreement, and are also members of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), a Moscow-led security alliance that serves as an alternative to NATO. Peskov explained that these treaties "indeed, stipulate a number of commitments of the sides on mutual assistance." He was answering a reporter's question on the circumstances in which such assistance would be possible.

"But, as you know, now there is no such need and the Belarusian leadership has itself admitted that there is no such need now," he added. "In this case, any hypothetical deliberations are absolutely unacceptable and impossible."

"We believe that Belarusians will iron out their own problems in the framework of dialogue, within the legal framework, and without any foreign meddling," the Kremlin spokesman said.

Commenting on media reports that convoys of Russian military equipment were allegedly heading to the Belarusian border, the presidential spokesman emphasized that "Russian military equipment is on Russian territory and that's why there is nothing to comment on here."

Meanwhile, Alexander Lukashenko's spokeswoman has claimed that the President of Belarus regards the CSTO and Union State agreements as paramount. "Consultations between the Belarusian and Russian presidents are currently underway. The heads of state coordinate their actions, primarily within the framework of the existing agreements. These are both the Union State and the CSTO," Natalya Eismont said. She also noted that the two leaders had held several phone calls.

Minsk more worried about NATO movement in Poland & Lithuania
© AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has completely denied that there are any foreign troops in the country, rejecting online "fakes" that claim to show columns of Russian troops heading towards the border.

Instead he says Belarusian officials should carefully monitor NATO troops at the country's western borders. "The defense ministry should pay special attention to movements of NATO forces in Poland and Lithuania," state news agency BelTA quoted him as saying. "We should track all directions of their movements, and their intentions."

Lukashenko is currently facing mass unrest following the results of a national election on August 9, deemed by many to be falsified. Some internet commenters have claimed that the Belarusian president has called for Russian military assistance, but this has been denied.

"As for foreign troops, today there is not a single one from another state in Belarus," he said, according to BelTA.

The Belarusian defense minister has ordered troops in the western Grodno region to be reinforced with tactical missile units, drones, and air defense systems, after President Alexander Lukashenko told him to "keep an eye" on NATO.

Earlier, Lukashenko said that increased NATO activities on the nation's western borders had sparked some concerns in Minsk, adding that movements near the Grodno region, in particular, "got you thinking." During a Security Council meeting on Wednesday, the president also ordered the Defense Ministry to keep a close eye on the alliance.

The Belarusian military apparently took his advice to heart, as Defense Minister Major General Viktor Khrenin immediately ordered the forces under the western operational command to be beefed up with a tactical missile and multiple rocket launcher battalions, and drone and air defense systems.

The troops in the Grodno region are already taking part in military exercises, involving tank and mechanized infantry battalions, as well as artillery forces and airborne troops. Now Khrenin has asked the military to draft proposals for additional defensive drills.

Lukashenko, meanwhile, is claiming his nation is as strong as ever and ready to repel any potential invader, despite the huge anti-government protests that broke out following the controversial presidential elections last Sunday week.

"Those, who believe that the government here ... is becoming unstable, are mistaken," he said.

"We will not budge. Those abroad sharpening their swords will be met with firm resistance."