April 24 – April 30, 2023
Belarus-West relations

The West considers the regime’s involvement in the deportation of Ukrainian children as Lukashenka escalates his dispute with Lithuania

The situation has not changed

The arrival in Belarus of Ukrainian children from Russian-occupied territory implicates the Lukashenka regime in their forced deportation. The democratic opposition in exile is gathering evidence for submission to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. The European Union has not yet imposed new sanctions against Russia and Belarus. The regime is escalating its dispute with Lithuania, which responds by restricting border crossing points and strengthening transit controls.

The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution concerning the forced deportation of Ukrainian children and adults to Russia. According to international law, forced deportation is a sign of genocide, so all cases should be investigated, and all those involved should be held accountable. At the initiative of Ukraine, Lukashenka was cited for involvement in the forced deportation of children and adults from the occupied territories of Ukraine, which automatically makes Lukashenka complicit in the genocide carried out by Russia in Ukraine.

The Joint Transitional Cabinet (JTC) and the People’s Anti-Crisis Management (NAU) are collecting evidence of Lukashenka regime representatives’ involvement in removing children from the Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine. Paralympian Oleksiy Talai was involved in evacuating Ukrainian children and travelled to the occupied areas several times to organise their removal. Later, the decision of the Union State to transport 1050 children from Ukraine in the Minsk region was announced.

The collected documents will be handed over to the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor in The Hague. In March, the ICC issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova.

The European Union is not yet ready to approve a new package of sanctions against Russia and Belarus due to their main priority being a new military aid package for Ukraine in anticipation of the planned counteroffensive.

Meanwhile, at the initiative of the defence industry, the United States began preparing new sanctions against the Belarusian regime. The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) has already included Belarus in the list of countries under surveillance for possible violations of intellectual property rights. Such a step by the American regulator is associated with the legalisation of “parallel imports”, the use of intellectual property without the permission of the copyright holder, which allows the regime to Lukashenka will receive direct financial benefits.

Meanwhile, following the confrontation with Poland, the Belarusian regime escalated its dispute with Lithuania, announcing the intention to liquidate the public association of Lithuanians “Gimtinė”. Lithuania warns that such actions by Belarus will be followed by a tough and principled response, and Vilnius will raise this issue internationally. 

Lithuanian customs has already announced the strengthening of export and transit controls to third countries through Belarus and Russia due to such routes being “illogical” and probably intended to circumvent Western sanctions. In addition, Lithuania plans to restrict the operation of two border checkpoints at “Tveryačius” (“Vidzy”) and “Šumskas” (“Losha”) to daytime car traffic only to help fight cigarette smuggling. These crossing points have no X-ray equipment, so cigarettes are transported through them in allegedly empty trucks.

Despite another escalatory step on the part of the Belarusian regime, Vilnius does not intend to ease pressure on the regime and lift restrictions on the supply of potash fertilisers to third countries. At the same time, repression continues, thousands of political prisoners are in prison, and Lukashenka continues to support Russia in its war of aggression against Ukraine.

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Once a week, in coordination with a group of prominent Belarusian analysts, we provide analytical commentaries on the most topical and relevant issues, including the behind-the-scenes processes occurring in Belarus. These commentaries are available in Belarusian, Russian, and English.

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