January 29 – February 4, 2024
Belarus-West relations

Ukraine, following the footsteps of the West, is establishing the position of a special representative for Belarus

The situation has gotten better
Ukraine, following the footsteps of the West, is establishing the position of a special representative for Belarus

Ukraine is taking a significant step by following the example of Western nations and creating the position of a special representative for Belarus. This move marks the first substantial effort to establish institutional ties with Belarusian democratic forces in exile, reflecting a pivotal moment in the relationship between official Kyiv and Minsk. The decision is driven by the Belarusian regime’s willingness to collaborate in the war against Ukraine and offer military support in the event of an escalated conflict.

In line with several Western counterparts, Ukraine has appointed Ihor Kyzym, the former ambassador of Ukraine to Belarus, as a special representative for Belarus. Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of the democratic forces, congratulated Kyzym on his appointment.

Kyzym was the last ambassador of Ukraine to Belarus and held the position from February 2017 to June 22, 2023. In April 2023, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned Lukashenka’s meeting with the head of the occupation administration of the Donetsk region, Denis Pushilin. The Ministry of the Foreign Affairs regarded it as an attempt to legitimize the “invader” and recalled Kyzym for consultations. Later, by the decree of the President of Ukraine, the ambassador was relieved of his post.

In his new role, Kyzym was supposed to participate in a United Transitional Cabinet (UTC) meeting with special representatives from Estonia, Sweden, Poland, and Lithuania last week. However, he was absent due to a delayed appointment process. During the meeting, the parties discussed proposals from the democratic forces of Belarus concerning the strategy for 2024. Key topics included holding the Lukashenka regime accountable for war crimes and crimes against humanity, as well as coordinating sanctions. Special envoys affirmed their countries’ support for a comprehensive package of restrictions to harmonize sanctions against Russia and the Lukashenka regime. Additionally, discussions covered cultural cooperation, the potential involvement of Belarusian artists in Eastern Partnership programs, and increased support for Belarusian independent media.

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry’s preemptive action in establishing the position of a special representative for Belarus stems from the recognition that any matter involving Belarus holds a “special” nature for Kyiv. Kyzim pointed out that one of his responsibilities involves dealing with the democratic forces in Belarus, representing a segment of Belarusian society that stands against the policies of the current leadership in Belarus, including its support for Russian military aggression against Ukraine. Notably, the designated tasks align with the roles of special representatives for Belarus from European nations and the USA.

In essence, Ukraine has taken the crucial initial step towards structuring relations with Belarusian democratic forces in exile, prompted by Minsk’s actions persisting in the Russian war against Ukraine and its readiness to support Moscow in case of a renewed conflict escalation.

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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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