Belarus could join invasion of Ukraine as top security official urges them to stay out of war

Russia widened its offensive in Ukraine on Friday, striking airfields in the west and an industrial city in the east

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Ukraine is showing restraint towards Belarus but will fight back if Belarusian soldiers cross the border to join the Russian invasion, Ukraine's top security official Oleksiy Danilov said on Friday.

Danilov said Ukraine was being careful in dealing with Belarus despite the country being used as a launchpad for Russian planes to attack Ukraine.

If "one fighter crosses our border, we will fight back," Danilov added.

Russia widened its offensive in Ukraine on Friday, striking airfields in the west and an industrial city in the east, while the huge armoured column that had been stalled for over a week outside Kyiv was on the move again, spreading out into forests and towns near the capital.

Members of the Ukrainian forces prepare food amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, near Demydiv, Ukraine March 10, 2022
Members of the Ukrainian forces prepare food amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, near Demydiv, Ukraine March 10, 2022

With the invasion now in its 16th day, Russia appeared to be trying to regroup and regain momentum, with expanded bombardment and a tightening of its stranglehold on cities like Mariupol, the strategic seaport where civilians struggled to find food amid an intense 10-day-old siege.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said there have been “certain positive developments” in Russia-Ukraine talks but gave no details. He told Belarus’ leader that negotiations were being held “almost on a daily basis”.

Destroyed houses are pictured amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Irpin, Ukraine March 11, 2022.
Destroyed houses are pictured amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Irpin, Ukraine March 11, 2022.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukrainian forces had “reached a strategic turning point”, though he did not elaborate.

“It’s impossible to say how many days we will still need to free our land, but it is possible to say that we will do it,” he said via video from Kyiv.

Repeated rounds of negotiations between Russia and Ukraine have taken place along the Belarus border, and the two countries’ foreign ministers held talks on Thursday with no apparent progress, while various third countries have also made attempts to broker a stop to the fighting.

A Western official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters, said the fact that negotiations are taking place so early in the fighting “might speak to Russian concerns” about the progress of the war.

People carry white flags as they walk through the city of Irpin, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Irpin, Ukraine March 11, 2022.
People carry white flags as they walk through the city of Irpin, amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine, in Irpin, Ukraine March 11, 2022.