German chancellor Olaf Scholz underscored the implications of the war in Ukraine for the West in a speech on Thursday, calling it part of a crusade by Russia against liberal democracy.
"(Russian President) Vladimir Putin and his enablers have made one thing very clear: this war is not only about Ukraine. They consider their war against Ukraine to be part of a larger crusade, a crusade against liberal democracy," said Mr Scholz in a recorded speech at the Progressive Governance Summit in Berlin.
Meanwhile, a flurry of military activity in Belarus this week has caught the attention of Ukraine and the West as a potential sign that president Alexander Lukashenko may commit his army in support of Russia's flailing war effort in Ukraine.
Lukashenko has ordered troops to deploy with Russian forces near the Ukraine border, and his defence ministry says "combat readiness" drills are under way. On Tuesday, the interior ministry held exercises to eliminate "sabotage groups" near Yelsk, only 20km from the border with Ukraine.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy has asked the Group of Seven (G7) countries to place an international observer mission near the border, while France warned Belarus it could face more Western sanctions if it deepened its involvement in Ukraine.
Belarus allowed itself to be used as a launchpad for Russia's February 24th invasion of Ukraine but has not joined the fighting directly. Analysts say Lukashenko would have no choice but to comply if Russian president Vladimir Putin demanded he enter the war, at a moment when Moscow is reeling from a series of defeats and facing unprecedented public criticism of its generals' failings.