NATO

Belarus: NATO Denies Amassing Troops Amid Election Protests

Protests have been held following Alexander Lukashenko's victory in last week's presidential election.

NATO has denied claims from the president of Belarus that it is amassing forces along the country's border.

Protests have been held following Alexander Lukashenko's victory in last week's presidential election.

In a speech in the Belarusian capital Minsk, Mr Lukashenko claimed NATO tanks and planes were massing near his country's border.

However, NATO spokesperson Oana Lungescu said on Twitter "there is no NATO buildup in the region", adding the alliance’s presence is "not a threat to any country".

"It’s strictly defensive, proportionate & designed to prevent conflict and preserve peace," she continued.

NATO troops are in eastern Europe as part of the enhanced Forward Presence operation, established to stop potential aggression from the Kremlin, and includes hundreds of British personnel further north in Estonia.

Mr Lukashenko was re-elected last week with more than 80% of the votes, according to official results.

Some opposition parties have claimed the election was rigged, with rivals jailed and banned from running.

Belarus has also faced international condemnation with the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab saying the "UK does not accept" the result.

Mr Lukashenko rejected any possibility of repeating the vote and said at a rally of roughly 50,000 supporters, near the government's main building in Minsk, the country would "perish as a state" if the election was rerun.

On the same day, more than 200,000 people are thought to have taken part in a counter demonstration about 1.5 miles away.

It marked an eighth straight day of anti-government protests in which at least two people have died, with thousands detained.

Russia has offered military assistance to the Belarus President, while the European Council has called for talks to discuss the election and the violence that followed.

Cover image: Demonstrators gather in Independence Square in Minsk, Belarus, to protest the recent re-election of ruler Alexander Lukashenko (Picture: PA).