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May 29 – June 4, 2023
Belarus-West relations

Ukraine and the Democratic Forces of Belarus advocate a Euro-Atlantic strategy

The situation has not changed
Ukraine and the Democratic Forces of Belarus advocate a Euro-Atlantic strategy
Фото: телеграм-канал Светланы Тихановской https://t.me/tsikhanouskaya/3408

Ukraine and many Western countries see liberation from Russian troops and the integration of Belarus into the Euro-Atlantic community as a prerequisite for a peaceful post-war order in Europe. However, France has its own viewpoint regarding the Belarusian regime, determined to avoid extending military conflict to Belarus. Democratic forces in exile continue their campaign to bring the Lukashenka regime to justice for participating in the deportation of Ukrainian children, which is appreciated in Kyiv. Warsaw intends to lobby for strengthening EU sanctions and imposes its own restrictions.

Belarus was discussed at the Summit of the European Political Community in Chisinau with President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, unambiguously stating that EU and NATO membership is the only way for countries bordering Russia, including Belarus, to protect themselves. In a security context, Ukrainian NATO membership is essential for Moldova, in the long term, for Georgia and, eventually, for Belarus. Meanwhile, Ukraine is prepared to provide practical assistance to countries currently occupied by Russian troops. Although the summit primarily concerned Moldova, the post-war European order requires a free and democratic Belarus, liberated from the Russian military presence.

Belarusian democratic leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya called on the international community to defend democratic values and support Belarus and Ukraine at the GLOBSEC international security forum in Bratislava. She stressed the importance of preparing for the next window of opportunity. She called for a strategy to free Belarus of dependence on the Kremlin and turn the country towards democracy.

French President Emmanuel Macron believes that Western countries should continue to pressure Belarus to stay out of the war and offer Lukashenka an exit strategy. This implies opposition to military operations to free Belarus from Russian troops.

While Western countries are discussing a strategy towards Belarus, Minsk and Moscow are implementing one against the West, undermining Euro-Atlantic institutions and playing one party off against another. For example, Belarus and Russia are precipitating a crisis in the OSCE by obstructing Estonian chairmanship, which is due to begin in 2024.

Deputy Head of the United Transitional Cabinet and Head of the National Anti-Crisis Management, Pavel Latushka, presented Warsaw and Kyiv with a report on the role of the Lukashenka regime and the Union State in illegally deporting children from Ukraine to Belarus. A vital element of the report is the political and legal recognition of Lukashenka’s personal responsibility and the role of the Union State in committing war crimes against Ukrainian children. Meanwhile, the Verkhovna Rada acknowledged the reality of Minsk’s complicity in the forced transfer of Ukrainian children and prisoners of war through Belarusian territory. The investigation, now being conducted by the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine, potentially paves the way for issuing an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the arrest of the Belarusian leadership.

Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, announced his intention to propose strengthened sanctions against Belarus to the European Council. In anticipation of this, on June 1st, Poland imposed border restrictions on trucks registered in Belarus and Russia in response to the confirmation of the eight-year prison sentence imposed on journalist Andrzej Poczobut. Warsaw does not rule out further sanctions against the Belarusian regime.

The Belarusian Customs Committee believes that Poland’s decision to ban Belarusian and Russian trucks from entering the country will worsen conditions for European business, and Minsk threatens to respond asymmetrically to this decision.

 

 

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