Belarus protests: Vladimir Putin says Russian police ready to be deployed in Belarus

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday that a reserve police force is on stand-by, but not yet needed, as protests continue to grip the Eastern European country in the wake of a hotly contested election that saw Alexander Lukashenko re-elected as president.

Putin said that Russia has “certain obligations towards Belarus” and that he told Lukashenko that Moscow would meet those obligations. He said both leaders agreed that Russian forces would not be used unless “the situation got out of control.”

The former Soviet republic was plunged into turmoil following an election the opposition claims was undemocratic.

A coordination council was set up after the election with the aim of negotiating a peaceful transfer of power, but Lukashenko has deemed the council an attempt to seize power illegally. Two of the group’s leaders have been jailed.

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Belarus, officially the Republic of Belarus and formerly known as Byelorussia or Belorussia, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe. It is bordered by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital and most populous city is Minsk.

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