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Belarus leader Lukashenko makes baseless claim UK responsible for Bucha atrocities

Belarus leader Lukashenko makes baseless claim UK responsible for Bucha atrocities
Lukashenko made the absurd accusation after Putin said images and footage of dead bodies were ‘fake’

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has described the atrocities in the Ukrainian town of Bucha, where Russian forces are accused of killing hundreds of civilians, as a “British special operation”, without citing evidence for the claim.

Speaking at a televised news conference after talks with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, Mr Lukashenko suggested Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, could provide proof of the allegation.

“It’s like in Bucha,” the Belarusian dictator said. “Here we were discussing the policy. Everyone is screaming: ‘Well, we should have introduced another package. Today we discussed in detail their ‘psychological special operation’ which was carried out by the British.

“If you need addresses, passwords, car numbers, car brands, on which they arrived in Bucha and how they did it, the FSB of the Russian Federation can provide this information. If not, we can help with that.”

He went on to claim that if Russia had delayed its 24 February invasion “even a little bit”, a “crushing blow was being prepared on the territory of Russia, that was possible, we have seen it clearly today”.

The Kremlin and its allies have in recent days sought to frame the atrocities in Bucha as a “staged” incident, but have until now not directly blamed the UK or other western nations.

<p>Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko attends a meeting with the Russian president at the Soyuz-2 space rocket complex near the city of Tsiolkovsky in the far eastern Amur region of Russia</p>

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko attends a meeting with the Russian president at the Soyuz-2 space rocket complex near the city of Tsiolkovsky in the far eastern Amur region of Russia

Mr Lukashenko was echoing remarks by Mr Putin at the same news conference, who claimed again without evidence that images and footage of dead bodies strewn across Bucha were “fake”.

Comparing allegations that Moscow’s troops had executed civilians to western outcry over the use of chemical weapons in the war in Syria which the Kremlin said was aimed at discrediting Bashar al-Assad, Mr Putin said: “It’s the same kind of fake in Bucha.”

<p>Russian President Vladimir Putinand Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at the meeting on Tuesday</p>

Russian President Vladimir Putinand Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko at the meeting on Tuesday

<p>Vladimir Putin delivers a speech as he visits the Vostochny Cosmodrome</p>

Vladimir Putin delivers a speech as he visits the Vostochny Cosmodrome

In 2018, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov claimed a reported chemical attack in Syria, where Russian forces were operating in support of the country’s president, was staged by foreign agents.

Russia’s defence ministry accused the UK specifically of helping stage the attack, something the UK’s envoy to the UN said at the time was a “grotesque, blatant lie”.

Moscow insists the Ukrainian claims of a Bucha massacre are a “monstrous forgery” aimed at denigrating the Russian army.

But on Tuesday, the mayor of Bucha said 403 bodies killed by Russian forces had so far been recovered.

Russian soldiers retreated late last month, having suffered heavy losses, but Anatoliy Fedoruk said it was still too early for residents of the town to return.