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Opinions & Interviews

18 Jan 2019

Lukashenko warns against crisis in Ukraine spilling over into Belarus

Lukashenko warns against crisis in Ukraine spilling over into Belarus

MINSK, 18 January (BelTA) – We should be cautious to make sure there is no destabilization in the country and that the crisis in Ukraine does not seep across the border into Belarus, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said at a meeting in the run-up to the 100th anniversary of the Belarusian diplomatic service attended by the former foreign ministers of Belarus, BelTA has learned.

“Everyone wants to take advantage of the situation in Ukraine. The fire that is blazing there today (still unknown how it will end) should not spill over into Belarus. We need to be a thousand times careful, cautious to never allow internal destabilization in the country. It seems that the overwhelming majority of our population, and even the overwhelming majority of our so-called opposition, understand that this can end very badly,” the Belarusian leader said.

With regard to the efforts and role of Belarus in the peaceful resolution of the conflict in Ukraine, Alexander Lukashenko noted this is something that does not require a lot of words. “Our neighbors are in trouble. It was not us who suggested Minsk as the venue. It was Mrs Merkel. She suggested meeting in Minsk. I was in Sochi at that time holding negotiations with Vladimir Putin. I left the same day to arrange a meeting the following day,” the Belarusian leader noted.

He recalled that as a result of the Ukrainian conflict Belarus was faced with an influx of refugees and displaced persons, about 150,000 people. Some of them returned to Ukraine, while the majority settled down in Belarus and enjoy the same rights as Belarusians, the president noted.

“We are dealing with the fallout of this conflict, and there is more to come. We are affected by this conflict. It will be bad if the conflict drags on. Our stance on the Ukrainian issue is based on these pragmatic considerations,” Alexander Lukashenko underlined.

The head of state named other reasons why the parties should work hard to resolve the conflict as soon as possible. “There are problems. They can get worse. We should not distance ourselves from this matter,” he is convinced.    

Alexander Lukashenko stated that Europe and the United States voiced concern about the situation in this region and got involved. “I say it often publicly: listen, the West and, first of all, America, could not even dream of such a gift. The first gift was the disintegration of the Soviet Union. The second was Ukraine. Why would one blame the Americans? God forbid they put short-range and medium-range missiles there (this agreement has been virtually scrapped). Short-range missiles can reach the Urals. This is another reason to come to grips with this issue,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

He added that NATO presence on the territory of Ukraine is not the biggest concern: “There are enough people in Ukraine who are a dozen times worse than NATO. One day we will pray for NATO to come there instead of people who are already there with guns. I made my position clear to the Russian leadership. This should not be disregarded, either.”

The head of state believes that each one has their own goals in the conflict in Ukraine. The parties do not even have any desire to reconvene and discuss security issues in the region. “Both at the recent meeting in Munich and during meetings with Americans, Europeans, they always say they want peace in Ukraine in order to have order in Europe. I suggest meeting within the OSCE format to discuss problems. No, they do not want this. Everyone pursues their own goals,” said Alexander Lukashenko.

The same is true about the initiative to hold a new international negotiation process Helsinki-2. “They, in Europe, say that there is no need for it, that it is impossible and unnecessary now. This is Europe’s position. They do not need it. Although Mrs Merkel and others, including the former president of France, and perhaps, the current one, understand that our house is on fire. Today, both Poland and Hungary have already been drawn into this conflict. It will get worse. We need to put this fire out. However, they still continue playing some games,” the head of state said.

Alexander Lukashenko also said that when the conflict just began in Ukraine, Belarus suggested a plan to resolve it. It was not adopted, however. “When the conflict broke out, the Poles called me right away. I said if you are interested in a plan from the ‘dictator’, we can offer one. I also told them if you do not accept this plan, I will think that you do not need peace in Ukraine. [Donald] Tusk agreed with me. They rejected the plan. Now they shamefully look away,” the president said.

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