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Russia 'shocked' as Belarusian foreign minister dies after 'sudden heart attack'

Daily Express logo Daily Express 27/11/2022 Charles Harrison
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The Belarusian Foreign Minister, Vladimir Makei, has died of a "heart attack", a Belarusian newspaper reports.

Nasha Niva, Belarus's oldest newspaper which is now banned within the country, shared a report on social media that the politician, who had been instrumental in negotiations with Ukraine, had died of a "heart attack" at home.

Earlier Belarus-owned news agency Belta, said Mr Makei "died suddenly" at the age of 64, having served in the position since 2012. 4 days prior to his death, Mr Makei visited Yerevan in Armenia, and just yesterday was seen meeting Archbishop Ante Jozic - suggesting the death was not the result of a prolonged illness.

His abrupt death comes amid rising tensions between NATO and Belarus, as Russia continues to deploy their troops in the country - and just a day after a think tank predicted that Vladimir Putin may attempt to intimidate Belarus into joining the invasion of Ukraine.

The Kremlin's foreign ministry said Russia was "shocked" to hear of the death. The press secretary of the Belarusian Foreign Ministry told Sputnik that Mr Makei "died suddenly a few hours ago. There were no signs. A great loss for all of us."

Russia's foreign ministry representative Maria Zakharova said in a Telegram message: "We are shocked by reports of the death of the head of the Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Belarus, Vladimir Makei. Official condolences from the Russian Foreign Ministry will be published in the near future."

The US-based Robert Lansing Institute yesterday quoted sources from the top of the Russian military who suggested that Putin would make an assassination attempt on Belarusian president Lukashenko, "or its imitation".

The think tank claimed such an act had the aim of "ultimately intimidating the latter and prompting him to finally order his troops to directly engage in the war on Ukraine, alongside Russian troops."

READ MORE: Putin and Lukashenko humiliated as ally attacks Russian-led alliance [REVEAL]

Belarusian foreign minister mysteriously dies with no official reason given by state media © Getty Belarusian foreign minister mysteriously dies with no official reason given by state media RUSSIA-UKRAINE-CONFLICT-WAR-POLITICS © Getty RUSSIA-UKRAINE-CONFLICT-WAR-POLITICS

Just days before Mr Makei's death, the Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) also claimed Russian special services were seeking to conduct false flag operations in Belarus in order to drag them into the war.

However, the Institute for the Study of War refuted whether such an attempt would be successful, saying Belarus was unlikely to enter the war due to the "heavy domestic risk that involvement would pose to the survival" of Lukashenko's regime.

Lukashenko recently dismissed speculation that Belarus would join the invasion.

While Belarus has been used as a staging post for Russian attacks on Ukraine and Moscow has deployed troops and weapons there, it has not taken a more direct role in the war.

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Vladimir Putin Visits Armenia © Getty Vladimir Putin Visits Armenia CSTO Troops © Getty CSTO Troops

During a summit for the Russia-dominated Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), Lukashenko quashed rumours of Belarus intending to engage, remarking: "We will add nothing to it".

He added: "On the contrary, we will make things worse. It is not Belarus' role in this conflict."

The president said that while Belarus is supporting Russia in other ways, "we are not getting involved, we don't kill anyone, we don't send personnel over there because there is no need for it."

A survey earlier this year in Belarus by the Chatham House think tank showed that less than a 10th of Belarus' population supported sending troops to participate in the war.

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