In a local press interview yesterday, Belarusan President Alyaksandr Lukashenka attacked "the U.S. which blackmails the world with nuclear weapons. This would have been impossible if the USSR had continued to exist." Observing that "Russia and Belarus surrendered their fall-back position by withdrawing the nuclear missiles from Belarus," Lukashenka advised Russia that "it is still possible to turn the situation around" and lead a "common resistance" to the United States. He expressed hope bordering on confidence that a bloc of Russia and Belarus could be supported by Ukraine, other former Soviet republics, some Arab countries, India, China and "even" some former Warsaw Pact countries. (Russian agencies, February 11)
Lukashenka’s apparent regret over the removal of nuclear missiles from Belarus fits in with his televised speech to scientists at Sosny nuclear laboratory. In that statement, he exhorted them to "resume work on the entire range of problems that had originally been assigned to this laboratory. I trust you understand what I mean." (Russian TV, February 9) That cryptic exhortation was accompanied by a broader official hint that Belarus is capable of developing nuclear weapons. (See Monitor, February 10) Such claims probably reveal more about the Belarusan leader’s psychology than they do about his means to pursue nuclear ambitions. Former head of state Stanislau Shushkevich, a nuclear physicist by profession, described such ambitions as "fantasy." But, apparently with an eye to the emergent Russia-Belarus alliance, Shushkevich added that Belarus must remain an independent country in order to avoid a "return" of the nuclear missiles to its territory. (RTR, NTV, February 9)
Romania not Popular in Moldova.