Putin Raised Alleged Belarus Coup Plot During Call With Biden

Russian President Vladimir Putin raised an alleged attempt to seize power in Belarus during a call with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden, as the sides accuse each other of interfering in the affairs of eastern European countries.

Putin discussed the coup plot, which Russia says was hatched in consultation with the U.S., during last week’s call with Biden, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists Monday.

The Federal Security Service, known as the FSB, said over the weekend it helped the Belarusian KGB arrest two men planning a military coup in Russia’s closest ally, Belarus. One of the men allegedly was in contact with the U.S. and Poland before the meeting.

The State Department dismissed claims of its involvement as false, according to Radio Liberty. Polish presidential minister Krzysztof Szczerski told TVP that Poland was not involved.

Relations between Russia and the U.S. have steadily deteriorated since Putin annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, with Washington announcing its latest round of sanctions last week. Over the weekend, Russia announced the alleged coup plot, while the Czech Republic expelled 18 embassy staffers over a deadly explosion it linked to Moscow.

The expulsion of the Russian diplomats from Prague was meant to distract from reports of the planned coup, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Sunday, Tass news service reported.

Belarus, which borders NATO members Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, is Russia’s closest ally in Europe. Its president Alexander Lukashenko has been pushed closer to Moscow due to massive popular discontent following his disputed re-election last year.

Putin and Lukashenko are due to meet this week.

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