Our country's territory is now a threat to the whole world.
Andrei Sannikov, leader of the European Belarus civil campaign, has told Charter97.org about his trip to Norway and commented on Putin's statement regarding the deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus:
- The trip was organized by the Norwegian initiative of "Solidarity with Belarus" (Solibel), which consists of the Belarusians living in Norway, as well as the Norwegians. There was quite an intensive program, meetings with politicians, human rights activists, journalists, discussions and a seminar in the Norwegian parliament, which was attended by representatives of different parties. There were talks with politicians, a meeting at the Norwegian Helsinki Committee.
I also took part in the daily rally against Russian aggression outside the Norwegian parliament, which is organized by the Ukrainians.
There was a meeting at the Norwegian Press House with representatives from Euroradio, Novy Chas and the Belarusian Association of Journalists participating via the video link.
- How well do they know and understand the situation in our country?
- Today, the war in Ukraine has come to the fore, which is obvious. Therefore, the tragedy of Belarus, which for so many years has been living under the dictatorship, and is currently facing a period of unheard-of repression, has become less noticeable. Therefore it was very important to resume the talks with those people who are interested in Belarus and those who do not quite know our situation but would like to understand it.
It was important that after the seminar that took place in the Parliament, one of the organizers from the Green Party immediately raised the issue of Belarus during the debates on the Norwegian Foreign Minister's report on foreign policy. Questions were asked about the measures being taken against the Lukashenka regime.
- Let's talk about Putin's statement announcing the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus. You were the head of our country's delegation for nuclear disarmament and understand well the technicalities of the issue. Considering the remaining infrastructure in our country and those facilities that Putin is going to build additionally, how serious could be the nuclear arsenal deployed in Belarus?
- There is almost no infrastructure left. It was designed for the SS-25 mobile strategic missiles, known to us as RS-12M Topol. However, there are launch pads left.
When Lukashenka says that "all infrastructure" for nuclear weapons deployment is preserved, it must be alarming to the United States. After all, the launch pads that have not been destroyed are designed for launching intercontinental missiles.
I agree with those experts who say that the concept of "tactical nuclear weapons" is a very conventional concept. Nuclear weapon may become tactical if it is brought to the border of a state, but in essence it is the same deadly strategic nuclear weapon.
As a matter of fact, I met in Norway with representatives of NGOs advocating a ban on nuclear weapons. And it was at that meeting that I told them about the danger of Putin bringing tactical nuclear weapon to Belarus very soon, not handing over control of it to Lukashenka at first. They are quite seriously concerned about this issue.
When negotiating with the Green Party of Norway we talked about both nuclear weapons and the nuclear power plant in Belarus. The Norwegian Parliament wonders to what extent the international community is aware of the Astravets plant and how it is possible to monitor what is going on there.
Today the territory of Belarus without exaggeration poses a threat to the whole world. It is not a threat to Ukraine, but a threat to Europe and the world on two planes: plans to deploy nuclear weapons and the existence on the borders of Europe of such a dangerous facility as the Astravets NPP, where accidents are constantly occurring.
- American historian Yuri Felshtinsky believes that Putin may launch a nuclear strike on Europe from Belarus. How realistic is such a scenario today?
- I absolutely agree with Yuri, though at first I took his thesis with distrust. He has justified that the purpose of nuclear weapon deployment in Belarus is not Ukraine, but Europe. If an attack on the European countries would take place from the territory of Belarus, NATO would hardly retaliate against it to Russia.
Besides, an attack on Ukraine would not cause an immediate nuclear response, as Ukraine is not a NATO member.
- You have made a statement urging to convene the UN Security Council to consider threats to international security. What could be a real mechanism to counter a nuclear threat from the territory of Belarus?
- The mechanism could be quite serious. From sanctions to the deployment of peacekeeping forces.
It has to be said outright that the nuclear weapon states, such as the US, the UK and France, have not fulfilled their obligations under the Budapest Memorandum. This was a betrayal not only of Ukraine, but also of Belarus, which has also signed the Budapest memorandum, in which we were assured that all measures would be taken to ensure the territorial integrity and sovereignty of States renouncing nuclear weapons.
Failure to fulfill their obligations (and in fact they did not even hold consultations, which are foreseen when territorial integrity is threatened) has led us to the situation we have today: war in Ukraine and the threat of nuclear war. It is therefore their responsibility to convene the Security Council and to take decisive action.
Furthermore, I stressed in my statement that the decision on nuclear weapons is taken by two criminals. There is already an arrest warrant for one and the other is suspected of crimes against humanity. This is an entirely different situation. Criminals, if they are not stopped, will continue committing their crimes.