Russia is ready to intervene if the situation in Belarus gets out of control, although only as a last resort, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday.
"We proceed from the assumption that all the existing problems that are taking place today in Belarus will be resolved peacefully," Putin said in a televised interview.
He said that within the frameworks of the Union State and the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Russia could help Belarus protect its sovereignty, national borders and stability.
Putin recalled a recent phone conversation with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who asked Putin to form a "certain reserve of law enforcement officers," and Putin said he did.
Yet the two leaders agreed that the reserve will not be used unless the situation grows out of control and extremists "hiding behind political slogans cross certain boundaries," Putin said.
According to Putin, Belarus is perhaps the closest country to Russia ethnically, linguistically, culturally and spiritually.
"Therefore, of course, we are not indifferent to what is happening there. But this is primarily the business of the Belarusian people," Putin said.
Belarus has been witnessing mass protests after incumbent President Lukashenko won a sixth term in the Aug. 9 elections, with the opposition refusing to recognize the results.