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Russia planned an invasion of Belarus after its contested 2020 election, the intelligence department of Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense claimed, publishing newly unearthed documents.
The documents reveal the preparation of the 1st Panzer Army of Russia for the invasion and capture of Belarus, the ministry claimed Tuesday.
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“After the falsification of the presidential election in Belarus, the Russian Federation developed a plan to invade and suppress popular protests,” the Ukrainian agency claimed. “The occupation of Belarus was planned under the pretext of avoiding Russia’s involvement ‘in the European continental region in a regional or large-scale war with NATO member states in the West.’”
The ministry highlighted a document entitled, “Legend of the plan to regroup units and military units of the 1st Panzer Army in the area of the task.”
Belarus held a presidential election on Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020, with early voting running from Aug. 4 to Aug. 8. The Central Election Commission reported that incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won the election with just over 80% of the vote. He has won every presidential election since 1994, yet international monitors have condemned three of four of the elections as neither free nor fair.
Opposition candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya claimed to have won a decisive first-round victory with at least 60% of the vote, and her campaign formed the Coordination Council to facilitate a transfer of power and stated intentions to organize “long-term protests” against the official results. The European Union imposed sanctions on Belorusian officials deemed responsible for “violence, repression and election fraud.”
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Russia’s relationship with Belarus has drawn new scrutiny amid Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, as Minsk faces pressure to join the war on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s behalf.