20 August 2022, Saturday, 6:00
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Ukraine Should Terminate Relations With Lukashenka

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Ukraine Should Terminate Relations With Lukashenka

Kyiv needs a new policy.

The editors of the Ukrainian publication Evropeyska Pravda published an article stating that Ukraine should terminate all relations with the Lukashenka regime as soon as possible, but not with the Belarusian society, and at the same time decide who represents the interests of the Belarusian society.

"We are the only country that supports the Russians in this fight. Those who reproach us, are you trying to say you did not know that we have the closest alliance with the Russian Federation?.. That we have already created a single army in fact?.. We have always been, and will be together with fraternal Russia. Our participation in the "special operation" was determined by me a long time ago."

This statement by the self-proclaimed President of Belarus Aliaksandr Lukashenka was the most outspoken admission that Minsk is taking part in the Russian aggression against Ukraine. It was made on July 3, a week after a large-scale launch of missiles in Ukraine from the airspace of Belarus.

The day before, Lukashenka announced an order to "target decision-making centers" in the "enemy capitals", hinting that one of these enemies is Kyiv.

Lukashenka's transition to aggressive rhetoric was expected.

All his attempts to enter into a dialogue with the West to ease sanctions, as expected, failed, dependence on Russia is only growing, and a missile attack on Kyiv and other cities of Ukraine on June 26 (unfortunately, obviously not the last one) further cemented the role of an accomplice in war crimes for Belarus.

However, Kyiv is still trying to dissociate itself from the authorities of Russia and their branch in Belarus.

We are waging a stubborn struggle with the Russian army, but at the same time we maintain diplomatic relations with Belarus, which itself declares the unity of its army with the Russian one.

The fact that the Ukrainian ambassador is still working in Minsk sounds even more stupid if you recall that Ukraine does not recognize the legitimacy of Lukashenka, and the government appointed by him. By the way, there have been no Belarusian diplomats in Ukraine since March, so Kyiv's desire to maintain relations with the northern aggressor is one-sided.

Why does Kyiv not break off relations with Minsk?

Perhaps there are negative consequences of this step, which Ukraine is wary of?

Short answer: no, not anymore. It's more about inertia, which needs to end.

The policy of a special attitude towards the Lukashenka regime, which was pursued by Kyiv, once really made sense. Then Minsk maneuvered on the international arena and tried not to fall into the arms of Moscow, and the caution of Ukraine left room for such a maneuver.

For example, after the suppression of protests in Minsk, Ukraine joined a number of European decisions, but refused to impose sanctions on Lukashenka personally, because it was wary of a possible personal offense on his part.

First, the Foreign Ministry reminded back then that Belarus did not recognize the "Russian Crimea '' at that time, and Lukashenka’s personal revenge could have precisely such a consequence. Secondly, the diplomats explained, Lukashenka had not yet decided whether he would provide Moscow with his military bases for aggression against Ukraine.

Thirdly (although they tried not to mention it aloud in Kyiv), Ukraine needed economic cooperation and trade with Belarus, and this forced them to turn a blind eye to how bloody a dictator rules a neighboring country. In particular, due to the fact that for several items (from fuel to glass), imports from Belarus were the only alternative to supplies from the Russian Federation.

These arguments no longer exist.

Trade is practically absent, and in key areas for Ukraine it is completely absent. Lukashenka supported the annexation of Crimea last year, when he publicly recognized the peninsula as Russian. No more questions regarding military cooperation between Minsk and Moscow.

Of course, the involvement of Belarus in the war can be even more complete, but this no longer depends on relations with Kyiv. Belarusian troops do not participate in a ground attack, but for completely different reasons.

Firstly, due to the fact that Lukashenka’s army was not ready for military operations on foreign territory, and secondly, due to the lack of support for aggression in society (due to which significant losses of the Belarusian military or a massive coming over to the side of Ukraine may even lead to the resumption of mass protests).

The Lukashenka regime is aware of these problems and is trying to eliminate them. The Belarusian army constantly conducts military exercises, and Belarusian propaganda is constantly trying to dehumanize Ukrainians and increase hatred towards them in society. Fortunately for us, this preparation has not yet given the necessary results to Lukashenka and Putin.

Still, assuming that this is due to the preservation of diplomatic relations with Minsk would be a mistake.

Official Kyiv has already made this mistake before, under Poroshenko.

Since 2014, Kyiv has been pretending that there is no war with Russia.

We did not break off relations with the Russian Federation either after Ilovaisk, or after Debaltsevo, or after the events near the Kerch Strait in 2018 (then EvroPravda published a similar editorial). This did not prevent any further escalation. The only thing we "achieved" with this is the cementation at the international level of the thesis that the war with the Russian Federation is somehow fake, because otherwise there could be no talk of full-fledged diplomatic relations.

Now we are repeating this path with Belarus. Maintaining relations with Minsk creates the illusion that Kyiv is ready to resume relations (primarily economic, but not only) as soon as the active phase of the war ends.

The editors of the EP have already heard this question from friendly EU states. And the further — the more often it will occur.

Meanwhile, last week Ukraine severed relations with Syria in response to the diplomatic recognition of the Donbas sorry excuse of republics. But why does this logic not work in relation to Belarus, which has made many more hostile steps against our state?

Ukraine must break off relations with the Lukashenka regime.

Of course, breaking up a relationship should not be an end in itself. Ukraine has long needed a new policy.

It is perfectly normal to make a political statement that we are cutting ties with an illegitimate dictator, and not with the Belarusian society, because President Zelensky has repeatedly emphasized the difference between them. And at the same time — to determine, at least for ourselves, who will represent the interests of this society.

Also, Kyiv must finally decide what to do with those Belarusians who are on the territory of Ukraine — under what conditions their stay is acceptable.

Finding answers to these questions is more difficult than just turning a blind eye to the Belarusian aggression against our state.

This strange situation must finally be put to an end. And do it as quickly as possible.

The delay does not give Kyiv any advantages, only exacerbates the challenges.