Suspects of group that destroyed Russian plane detained: Belarus

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Belarus has detained several people over what it calls an attempted act of sabotage at a Belarusian airfield, President Alexander Lukashenko was cited as saying.

Belarusian anti-government activists said last month that they had blown up a sophisticated Russian military aircraft – a Beriev A-50 surveillance plane – in a drone attack at an airfield near the Belarusian capital Minsk, a claim disputed by Moscow and Minsk.

“To date, more than 20 accomplices who are in Belarus have been detained. The rest are hiding,” said Lukashenko, a key Kremlin ally, according to state news agency Belta.

He identified the presumed main culprit as a dual national of Ukraine and Russia.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko

Lukashenko said the aircraft had suffered only superficial damage in the attack, which was carried out using a “small drone”, Belta reported.

He described the main suspect as a “terrorist” who had been trained by Kyiv.

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“He was recruited by the Ukrainian special services in 2014, apparently. He is an IT specialist or somebody well versed in IT,” he added.

Lukashenko said he had ordered a nationwide “sweep” to round up other saboteurs involved in attacks inside the country.

A close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Lukashenko allowed Russia to use Belarus as a launch pad to invade Ukraine last February.

“If you think that by throwing down this challenge, you will drag us into a war tomorrow, which is already raging across over Europe today, you are mistaken,” Belta quoted him as saying in comments likely directed at Kyiv and Washington.

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