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Ukraine’s capital city could be facing a renewed threat as the leader of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) Denis Pushilin traveled to Belarus Wednesday and said it was “time to liberate” Kyiv.
Pushilin, backed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, traveled to the southwest city of Brest, which is situated on the border of Poland and just 50 miles from Ukraine, a state-owned Russian media outlet first reported.
“Today it’s time again to liberate Russian cities founded by Russian people: Kyiv, Chernihiv, Poltava, Odessa, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov, Zaporozhye, Lutsk,” Pushilin said naming cities across Ukraine while he attended a flower-laying ceremony at the Brest Fortress in honor of a Wold War II battle, according to a Telegram post by RIA.
Ukrainian officials have been sounding the alarm for months that Russian forces may once again attempt to take Kyiv after failing to capture the capital city earlier this year.
Following their withdrawal from Kyiv, Russian defense officials said their aim was to achieve “full control” over the eastern and southern regions of Ukraine.
But Moscow’s continued offensive in Ukraine and troop movements in Belarus has Ukrainian officials concerned they could be facing a second front to the north.
Earlier this month Belarus launched military drills along its shared border with Ukraine in an effort to assess troop preparedness in combat tasks.
Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenkyy, claimed that “Moscow’s desire to cover the lack of its military capabilities is behind the attempts to involve Belarus in the war.”
“Russia needs Belarusian army disposal and the power loss of the Lukashenko regime,” he added.
Fears that Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko could enter the fray by sending troops into Ukraine in support of Russia surfaced in June when he allowed Russia to fire missiles at Ukrainian targets from Belarusian airspace.
Lukashenko, a longtime ally of Putin, also said “big war” was on the horizon and parroted comments made by the Kremlin head accusing the West of instigating a global war.
Yuriy Sak, an adviser to Ukraine’s Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, told Fox News Digital Saturday that Ukrainian intelligence does not assess an “imminent” threat from Belarus at this time.
“But it is our understanding that Russia is trying to twist the [arm] of the Belarusians,” he said, “trying to force them into this.”
Ukrainian defense officials have told Fox News Digital they are prepared for an offensive on their northern border if Belarus does move its troops toward Kyiv.