Belarus would not hesitate to invite Russian troops if needed, Alexander Lukashenko said on Friday.

Iran PressEurope: Russia has maintained close military and economic ties with its ally Belarus, even as Western countries have ostracized the country since Lukashenko cracked down on mass protests following a contested presidential election last year.

Lukashenko said Belarus had coped with the unrest without any external forces and could muster around 500,000 personnel in a short period of time, but was prepared to bring in Russian armed forces if necessary.

"There is no need for that now. We have quite a strong, united and compact armed force, however, Russian armed forces will be introduced, If it is necessary, we will not hesitate," Belarus' state-run news agency Belta cited Lukashenko as saying.

Russia and Belarus signed an agreement in 1998, according to which the two countries form a union government, and within the framework of this intergovernmental plan, the governments and parliaments and foreign ministries of the two countries hold joint meetings every year.

European countries and the United States are trying to overthrow the anti-Western Alexander Lukashenko's government by imposing sanctions and supporting the opposition in Belarus. 219