Belarus Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei, who dismissed international concerns over a potential Russian invasion of Ukraine being launched from his country earlier this year, died at 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.
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, President Alexander Lukashenko ruled with an iron fist since 1994, borders 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.
Makei had held his post since 2012.