5 July 2022, Tuesday, 12:50
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Ukrainian Political Analyst on Lukashenka’s Actions: It Happens When Insane People Are in Power

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Ukrainian Political Analyst on Lukashenka’s Actions: It Happens When Insane People Are in Power
Alexander Khara

Putin has the Belarusian dictator on a short leash.

How realistic is Lukashenka's participation in Russia's aggression against Ukraine? Have ordinary Belarusians become aggressors in the eyes of Ukrainians? Is Kyiv ready to stop buying Belarusian oil products and electric energy? Ukrainian diplomat and political scientist, expert of the Maidan Foreign Affairs Foundation Alexander Khara told about it in an interview with Charter97.org.

- How would you comment on Macron's trip to the Kremlin and then to Kyiv. Has the French president managed to achieve anything?

- I think the key thing he succeeded in was to provoke a not very favorable reaction in the expert community in Kyiv. He had to disown his comments to journalists about the Finlandization of Ukraine as one of the options, which he believes one can consider.

The second negative thing is that he was talking about Russia as a European state and that Russia had to be at the table, create a new order, a new security architecture in Europe. We realize that practically - this is impossible. That order, which is grounded in the UN Charter, the final act of the CSCE, the Charter of Paris, and, accordingly, the presence of an organization like NATO, has been securing the continent for all this time, since '75, when that final act [of the CSCE] was adopted.

Macron is not responding to Russia's violations, to the destruction of this order. He is proposing such a dialogue. This is counterproductive. I do believe that even the German partners did not give their permission for Mr Macron to propose such things and to actually question the need to defend the order that has been established since '91. These are such two negative things.

He looked rather weak with Mr Putin at the press conference. Putin twisted the facts, actually manipulated the positions and so on, blamed the West for everything possible (including Ukraine). Macron was somehow faint about unity, the need for dialogue and all that. That is, frankly speaking, the main goal of this trip is not clear from the point of view of the final results. That is why Kyiv took his visit more negatively than positively.

He said that Putin had assured him that there would be no escalation, that he had agreed on de-escalation. However, we saw Peskov actually disown those words a few hours later and said there was no such thing.

The president welcomed him positively enough in Kyiv. Apparently, he said different things here, both publicly and privately. The trip to Kyiv has been much more successful for Macron in terms of prestige and so on. During his visit, he signed several documents worth millions of dollars, signed contracts for French companies. He will return to Paris with something, not just this image of a man who achieved nothing with Putin and questioned the united position of the West, which we have been happily observing for the last few weeks.

- Did Ukraine gain anything from this visit?

- Nothing has changed for Ukraine. The accumulation of forces on our borders continues. Russia, naturally, hints that an invasion is possible. Joint Russian-Belarusian exercises begin. The nuclear component is of most concern for us. You are well aware that amendments to the Belarusian constitution will actually convert Belarus from a non-nuclear state to a potentially nuclear one. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus says that the alleged aggressiveness of the West encourages Belarus to place Russian nuclear weapons on the territory of Belarus. Of course, we cannot but be concerned; it fundamentally changes the security issues in the region.

Not to mention all sorts of statements on the side Lukashenka takes if a war between Russia and Ukraine starts. It started in 2014. However, he keeps stubbornly ignoring it. Lukashenka already "holier than the Pope" stands in support of Russia. It has always been like that, but he used to be more cautious in his statements regarding Ukraine.

There is an expression "dogs of war". Lukashenka is one of these characters. He threatens us with something. Moreover, it is absolutely clear that Ukraine, even in its most dreadful dreams, does not consider the question of waging war with Belarus, with the Belarusians. We have absolutely no contradictions either with the State of Belarus as such, if we take objective parameters, let alone with the Belarusian people. This is what happens when crazy people are in power; such rhetoric happens.

- Do Ukrainians understand that the Belarusians are on their side while a dictator stands against the freedom of Ukraine?

- Yes. You know, even if you look critically, the Belarusian people, unfortunately, are still in the paradigm of "let no war start," because the Belarusians suffered most of all during World War II. There is a basic misunderstanding that it is all gone and there is the potential for a new conflict in Europe. The Belarusians could understand that their self-appointed government (because most of the world community did not recognize Lukashenka's so-called election) is heading for such a conflict on the side of the aggressor. It is not Ukraine that started the war on its territory. It is not Ukraine that gave up Crimea. It is not Ukraine that has been supplying weapons and fighters for eight years. They are under the control of the General Staff of the Russian Federation. It controls the fighting in Donetsk and Luhansk.

Why should Belarusians fight against Ukraine in the interests of Putin's Russia? Perhaps such a question is under consideration. There is such a concept - proxies. Those forces in Donetsk and Luhansk (although there may still be our citizens there, Ukrainians by origin) are proxy ones. That is, they are fighting in the interests of another state. Neither for the independence of Donbas nor the annexation of Crimea to Russia, but for Russia to control Ukraine. Such statements and actions of Mr Lukashenk actually convert and turn Belarus into a proxy force of the Russian Federation. At some point, Putin may find it useful to use Lukashenka, whom they have on a short leash, against Ukraine in order to deny his presence, to deny any involvement.

I entertain this idea as it's clear that the Lukashenka regime rests on the bayonets of a specific power bloc in Belarus and Russia. It's absolutely not a case of any democratic foundations and support by the population. Hence, one can use him as a tool against Ukraine, and not only Ukraine. We have witnessed how the tension was artificially created on the Belarusian-Lithuanian and Belarusian-Polish border. This was not just Lukashenka's initiative. He would have been unable to carry out such an operation without the knowledge and operational support of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation.

There will be provocations. We realize that this regime is aggressive. We also understand that it does not represent the interests of the Belarusians. To imagine the Belarusians as aggressive is generally beyond any common sense. I mean as a nation, not as its representatives. This is absolutely out of touch with reality. However, the madmen at the helm of the state can drag the Belarusians into this abyss.

- What will be Kyiv's reaction if Lukashenka does join the Russian aggression?

- We have one reaction. If friends come to us, we are hospitable. If they come to us with aggression in any form, with a tricolor or the flag of the Belarusian Soviet Socialist Republic - all these people will simply be a target for our armed forces and any citizen who will defend their state with a weapon in hand. There will be no doubt and no mercy, and so on. We learned it from February and March 2014.

It was clear from the very start who the so-called green men were, but the situation was a little different. Now it is absolutely clear that if something is heading in our direction with weapons, then this "something" is subject to destruction. Whether there will be Belarusians, Buryats, or anyone else. I assume Ukrainians won't have any moral constraints.

Naturally, we will regret that the crazy pseudo-president brought things to it. God forbid, of course, that it has come to it. I have a part of my blood in Belarus; my mother is Belarusian. I would not like to imagine that Ukraine will be invaded from that territory and the Belarusians will take part in it.

- Have the Belarusian authorities at least made a diplomatic demarche by their attacks on Ukraine?

- We understand why it happens and who pulls the strings. Strings from Belarus run to Moscow. It was clear before that this was a person who had been in power for so many years not through support from the people, but manipulation, intimidation, and killing competitors. It was clear before. Before that, he maintained a certain restraint and tried to maneuver between Russia and the West. Accordingly, Ukraine was extremely important to him in this sense. But let us remember that it was decided that Minsk would be a platform for negotiations with Russia on ending its aggression in Donbas. By the way, I consider a huge mistake made by the previous president of Ukraine. We pulled Lukashenka out of diplomatic and political isolation. It was simply a huge mistake.

The second mistake is that we are still heavily dependent on Russian energy supplies via the territory of Belarus, ensuring the so-called Belarusian economic miracle. We understand that actually, that economy is ineffective, and its only resource, which holds everything together, is Russian energy carriers exported to Ukraine and the West. It is clear that if we stopped this "miracle" would collapse.

Even before that, we understood who Lukashenka was, but he behaved a little more restrained and more or less tolerable. Now he has his hands in the blood of his citizens; he has no chance to try again to balance between the West and Russia. This is why he has become such a "Pope" in defending Russia's interests. This is why he is much more aggressive in his statements and actions towards Ukraine. He shows his loyalty to work for a chance to stay in power. These are obvious things for the master in the Kremlin to realize that he needs such a useful person.

- Is Ukraine ready to stop buying oil products and electricity from the hostile regime?

- As far as I know, there have been discussions and work on this issue for months. However, I do not see that any plan will be adopted in the end and how it will be implemented. So far, I haven't seen it in public.

It cannot but raise concern because Belarus may stop deliveries at any moment. Of course, it will be extremely hard on Belarus. Such things will associate with Russia's aggression, i.e. it will be a common plan. Russia will compensate Belarus for such economic losses to avoid economic losses for Lukashenka.

Therefore, the problem is not solved. Perhaps, some steps are being taken at the top, let us say, systematic. They take time. Maybe. I hope so.