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Putin, Lukashenko speak again by phone: Belta

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Chief Executive of oil producer Rosneft Igor Sechin at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia August 18, 2020. Sputnik/Alexei Nikolsky/Kremlin via REUTERS

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin held a third phone call in four days with Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday amid protests and strikes in Belarus following contested elections, the Belta news agency reported.

Putin told Lukashenko about calls he made on Tuesday with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. The Russian leader had told the German chancellor and French president that any external interference in the internal affairs of Moscow’s neighbour would be unacceptable, Belta said.

Putin and Lukashenko spoke by phone on both Saturday and Sunday, with Moscow offering military support to Minsk if necessary.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin and Anastasia Teterevleva; Writing by Alexander Marrow; editing by John Stonestreet