Belarus: Suspects detained in attempt to sabotage Russian aircraft

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko says suspected collaborators with Ukraine have been detained over an attempt to destroy a Russian aircraft at a base near the capital Minsk.

A Belarusian state-run news agency reported on Tuesday that Lukashenko spoke about the incident during a ceremony at the Palace of Independence.

An antigovernment group said last month that a blast at the Machulishchy Air Base damaged a Russian early warning and control aircraft A-50, and hinted that Belarusians who oppose Russian troops' presence were involved.

The news agency said authorities detained "a Russian national with a Russian passport and a Ukrainian passport" and more than 20 others.

Lukashenko accused the US Central Intelligence Agency and the Ukrainian intelligence service of working out an operation against Belarus in secret.

The close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin also said the suspects tried to destroy the A-50 with a drone but said "the aircraft was not significantly damaged."

The news agency quoted Lukashenko as saying that if Ukraine thinks it can pull Belarus into the war on orders of Americans, they are mistaken.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry categorically rejected "Lukashenko's insinuations" about Ukraine's alleged involvement in the incident.

The ministry called the president's claim "another attempt to create an artificial threat from Ukraine in order to justify its support for Russian aggression."