The Minsk ruler had a visitor on Thursday.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sat on one of the neo-baroque sofas in front of Alexandr Lukashenko.

As usual in Russian-Belarusian encounters, Lukashenko outlined a common western threat.

"Attempts to strangle us, both Russia and Belarus, have effectively failed today," said Lukashenko, referring to the economic sanctions imposed by the West.

"We will definitely hold out."

Frederick Smith

Political correspondent for Russia and the CIS in Moscow.

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Lukashenko said he followed a press conference held by Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday and supported "all statements" made by the guest.

You could see that as backing.

Among other things, Lavrov had compared American policy towards Russia with the Holocaust.

"Just as Napoleon mobilized virtually all of Europe against the Russian Empire, just as Hitler mobilized and conquered, armed most European countries and threw them against the Soviet Union, the US has now formed a coalition of virtually all Europeans, not just Europeans who are members of NATO, from EU members, and are waging a proxy war against our country via Ukraine with the same task: the final solution to the Russian question,” Lavrov said.

Washington's National Security Council said Lavrov's comparison was "truly offensive."

The European Jewish Congress expressed "shock and concern" at comparing Western support for Ukraine to Hitler's "Final Solution to the Jewish Question", lamented "Holocaust distortion" and called on Lavrov to apologize.

However, that would contradict Moscow customs.

Lukashenko wants to evade Russian appropriation

Elsewhere on Wednesday, Lavrov seemed at a loss: "At some point this war will also end," said Russia's foreign minister.

“We will definitely defend our truth.

But I still can't imagine how I'm going to live on.

Everything will depend on what conclusions Europe draws.”

Lukashenko now seemed anxious to continue Minsk's old role as a place of negotiation, from the time when there was still talk of a "Ukraine conflict".

In all contacts with the West, they say that "Russia has never been against peace," said Lukashenko.

"Please, let's negotiate.

We are ready to take part in it.

You should have no doubts about that.

If something is needed from our side and we can do it – you know very well what we can do – say it directly, we will work together, hand in hand.”

But Belarus serves as a deployment area for Russian troops in the Ukraine war.

In the past few weeks, suspicions have again been voiced that Russia wants to force Belarus to participate directly in the war.

Or again use the territory of the "brother country" for a new offensive against Kyiv.

Minsk last autumn accused Ukraine of planning an attack on Belarus;

at the same time, Lukashenko agreed with Putin to set up a joint "regional military association".