Ukraine said Tuesday that troops from the Russian client state of Belarus had crossed the border and joined in the invasion spearheaded by Moscow.
According to the Washington Examiner, Ukrainian officials said they’d seen forces from the Eastern European nation cross the northern border.
Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko denied these reports, however, and said his forces would not be joining in the hostilities.
“No decisions were made by me. And without my decision, these units cannot even be withdrawn from the barracks,” Lukashenko told Belarus’ state news agency.
However, he did say reinforcements were being sent to the border. “These are highly trained maneuver groups that are ready to stop any provocation and any military actions against Belarus,” Lukashenko claimed.
Last week, he said that his forces would only become involved if necessary.
“Our troops are not participating in any way in this operation,” he said.
“We’re not going to justify ourselves here about our participation or non-participation in this conflict. I repeat once again. Our troops are not there, but if it becomes necessary, if Belarus and Russia need them, they will be there.”
However, Ukrainian Parliament tweeted that troops from Belarus had joined the invasion.
“Belarusian troops have entered Chernihiv region. The information was confirmed to the public by Vitaliy Kyrylov, spokesman for the North Territorial Defense Forces. More details later,” the tweet read.
Local reports in Ukraine also said 33 Belarusian troop units had invaded on Tuesday.
While U.S. officials had said that there was a potential for an invasion from Belarus, the Pentagon isn’t as convinced as Ukraine is that Belarusian troops have crossed the border.
On Tuesday, a senior defense official said they saw “no indication” of Belarusian troops entering Chernihiv.
Lukashenko is considered by observers to be a puppet for the Kremlin and has already voted to allow Russian troops to use the country as a staging area for the invasion.