Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko struggled to disembark his private jumbo jet after landing in Yerevan for a meeting with Vladimir Putin. The 68-year-old made heavy weather of descending the stairs on arrival with his appearance sparking speculation over his health.
Lukashenko made slow progress down the aircraft steps, appearing unsteady as he gripped the handrail for support.
Shuffling down step by step, the Belarusian strongman kept welcoming Armenian dignitaries waiting on the tarmac.
Lukashenko’s mobility struggles come as the Kremlin look to debunk rumours of Putin’s ill health.
Putin is a key ally of Lukashenko with Minsk and Moscow cooperation on the invasion of Ukraine.
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The Russian leader is suspected to be struggling with an undisclosed health condition, something strongly denied by the Kremlin.
Recent public appearances by Putin have only strengthened rumours over his health with experts noticing what appear to be injection marks on his hands.
Back in April, a viral video showed Putin appearing to shake uncountably during a meeting with Lukashenko, leading to concerns the Russian strongman was suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
Putin is known to be putting pressure on Lukashenko to fully commit to the Russian operation in Ukraine but Polish military analyst Dr Jacek Raubo argued the Belarussian dictator is unwilling to risk his own hold on power in such a high-risk military venture.
The analyst believes the Belarusian regime’s ability to keep a lid on domestic opposition would suffer if Lukashenko decides to bolster Russian forces.
He told Express.co.uk: “The day after Lukashenko would have lost some of the capabilities to stop any internal struggles because there will be no effective troops and no effective supplementary military forces.
“We know that they will lose a lot of troops because Ukrainians know about the possibility of invasion from the Belarusian side,
“They are preparing their own border, they are putting in minefields, they are making some fortification and mostly they are right now providing some troops to support this part of the border with Belarus.”
“So I think these casualties and even using some part of his security forces or military forces will be the last wish of Lukashenko.”
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Meanwhile, Belarusian opposition fighters have been actively supporting the Ukrainian military and gaining valuable combat experience which could later be turned on Lukashenko.
Dr Raubo told Express.co.uk: “There are a lot of volunteers inside Ukrainian forces serving not only for Ukraine but also for an independent Belarus.
“After the conflict, we will have a number of people with military backgrounds with a highly-skilled, professional approach and special forces experience.
“Because from the first day of the war, [Ukrainian soldiers] are not only using the conventional approach to defending against Russian forces, but also non-conventional warfare.
“Suddenly, [Belarusian volunteers] will have some tasks inside their own territory, and I think this is the biggest threat for Lukashenko.”