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France's Macron says Russian intervention in Belarus would not be welcome

FILE PHOTO: French President Emmanuel Macron speaks at the press conference after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Fort de Bregancon, in Bormes-les-Mimosas, France, on August 20, 2020. Christophe Simon/Pool via REUTERS

PARIS (Reuters) - French President Emmanuel Macron said on Friday that he had told President Vladimir Putin that any Russian military intervention in Belarus would be unwelcome and Paris does not want to see a repeat of what happened in Ukraine six years ago.

“As I had the opportunity to tell Vladimir Putin, I believe that any external intervention in Belarus, starting with an intervention by Russian forces, whether military or internal security, would obviously be an intervention that would come out of the Belarus national framework,” Macron told a news conference.

“I think such an intervention would be unwelcome.”

Macron said he would continue to talk to Putin about the need to convince President Alexander Lukashenko of the need for a mediation.

Lukashenko has faced a nearly three-week wave of protests over a disputed election. Opponents accuse him of having rigged his re-election, an accusation he denies.

Lukashenko, in power for 26 years, said on Friday he had agreed with Putin that their countries could unite their troops in the event of a threat from the West, the Belta state news agency reported.

Macon referred back to events after Ukraine’s then pro-Russia President Viktor Yanukovich was ousted in a popular uprising in 2014. This was followed by Russia’s annexing of Ukraine’s Crimea region.

“We don’t want to have a reiteration of what happened in Ukraine,” he said.

Reporting by Michel Rose and Elizabeth Pineau; Writing by John Irish; Editing by Frances Kerry