WARSAW, Poland (AP) - Belarus' opposition leader said Wednesday that she believes Russian military setbacks in Ukraine could shake the hold on power of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
"We have a distracted Russia that is about to lose this war. It won't be able to prop Lukashenko up with money and military support as in 2020," said Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, speaking at a security conference in Warsaw.
Tsikhanouskaya fled to Lithuania after Russian ally Alexander Lukashenko claimed victory in disputed August 2020 elections that were viewed in the West as fraudulent, and which many thought she won.
She said that hundreds of Belarusian volunteers have supported Ukrainians in their recent liberation of Ukrainian territory.
"As I speak, a Belarusian battalion is part of Ukraine's counter-offensive chasing the invaders away. We all understand that the speed of changes at the Ukrainian front opens new opportunities for Belarus. And it's moving so fast," she said at the Warsaw Security Forum.
"We keep our fingers crossed for our military volunteers in Ukraine. Fifteen lost their lives already." she said.
Russia is facing mounting setbacks in Ukraine as Ukrainian forces retake more and more land in the east and in the south - the very regions Russia has said it seeks to annex.
Tsikhanouskaya hailed the Belarusian partisans who carried out acts of sabotage early in the war on the railway system in Belarus to hamper the Russians in their assault on Ukraine, and said Belarusians would continue to oppose the war as they can.
"We are preparing our partisans, you know, to act decisively at this very moment. The acts of sabotage that took place in February and March can be repeated again, though people who are making these acts of sabotage can face death penalty," she said.