The foreign minister of Belarus, who earlier this year dismissed international concerns over a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine being launched from his country, has died at the age of 64, the Belta news agency reported on Saturday.
“The Belarusian foreign minister Vladimir Makei has died suddenly,” the country’s state news agency reported, citing the country’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Anatoly Glaz.
Makei had held his post since 2012.
Earlier this week, Makei took part in a summit of the Moscow-led Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) in Armenia’s capital Yerevan, and was due to meet his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Minsk on Monday.
Belarus, which has been ruled with an iron fist by President Alexander Lukashenko since 1994, borders both Ukraine and Russia.
The Belarusian leadership, the closest ally the Kremlin has internationally, allowed Belarusian territory to be used by Russian troops to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February.
Shortly before the invasion, as the international community voiced concerns at massive Russian troop build-ups along the Belarus-Ukrainian border, Makei said that “not a single” Russian soldier would remain in Belarus after joint military exercises in the area came to an end.
Moscow moved troops into Ukraine a week later, including some from Belarusian territory./The Moscow Times/