Belarus citizens voted Monday to approve hosting Russia's nuclear weapons and troops permanently as it prepares to join the fight against Ukraine, a move the European Union said would lead down a "very dangerous path," Al Jazeera reported.
The vote was part of a package of constitutional reforms that also extended the rule of President Alexander Lukashenko; 65% of referendum participants voted in favor of the amendments, while 10% voted against it, according to the Washington Examiner.
Nearly 80% of voters turned out for the referendum, General Election Commission head Igor Karpenko said.
"We will target the other aggressor in this war, Lukashenko's regime, with a new package of sanctions, hitting their most important sectors," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Sunday.
Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, last week allowed Russian troops to use territory in Belarus to invade Ukraine from the north.
"We know what it means for Belarus to be nuclear. It means that Russia will put nuclear weapons in Belarus, and this is a very dangerous path," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Monday.
Russia, according to Al Jazeera, has the world's largest arsenal of nuclear weapons.
Lukashenko on Monday warned Western sanctions were pushing Russia toward a "third world war," according to The Jerusalem Post.
"In a situation like this, we should be aware that there are such sanctions. A great deal is being said about the banking sector – gas, oil, SWIFT – it's worse than war," Lukashenko said at a referendum on changing Belarus's constitution, according to the president's website. "Russia is being pushed toward a third world war. We should be very reserved and steer clear of it. Because nuclear war is the end of everything."
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