In an interview with the Japanese TV channel TBS Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko spoke at length about the situation in Ukraine, ways of resolving the conflict, and Belarus’ stance on the matter, BelTA has learned.
The interview lasted for about an hour and a half. A considerable part of the interview was dedicated to the situation in the region, in particular, events in Ukraine, security problems, opportunities for a peaceful resolution of the conflict, and Belarus’ role in these processes. The matter of nuclear energy was also raised. Nuclear energy is of special importance for Japan, which has survived an accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. The interview also touched upon Belarus-Japan relations. Apart from that, the president was asked about his opinion of the collapse of the Soviet Union, about personal and professional relations between Aleksandr Lukashenko and leaders of Russia and Ukraine.
The complete interview is supposed to be published on Saturday, 19 March but the most headline-making statements of the Belarusian leader about Ukrainian affairs have already been released.
About Belarus’ stance: “We don’t bomb Ukraine. We advocate negotiations"
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that not a single Belarusian soldier is fighting in Ukraine. Contrariwise, Belarus is doing everything possible to bring about a peaceful resolution. The head of state said: “Despite the hostile attitude Ukraine took towards Belarus when prompted by the West (we’ve turned over this page) I called Zelenskyy and suggested immediate negotiations with Russia. Literally on the third or fourth day of this war. And he accepted the proposal. We organized three rounds of talks here, in Belarus. Now these negotiations will continue in the videoconference mode. They go on.”
The Belarusian leader stressed: “In other words, we don’t attack Ukraine, we don’t bomb Ukraine. We advocate negotiations. We would like these negotiations to end in this hall [the interview took place in the Green Hall of the Palace of Independence where Normandy Four talks took place in 2015 and where the Minsk agreements on resolving the conflict in Ukraine were worked out]. In this hall would be symbolical. Agreements on Ukraine were signed in Minsk back then.”
“This is why we advocate negotiations. We would like peace to be over there. If there is no peace over there, there will be no peace in Belarus with the passage of time. It is our position,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.
About a warning: “We will respond if Ukraine continues escalation against Belarus”
Asked whether Belarus may participate in actions against Ukraine, the head of state said: “If only Ukraine continues escalation against Belarus, we will respond. What I mean: at the moment of the conflict on 23-24 [February] they intended to deliver a strike against Belarus’ territory. I’ve talked about it. From four sites. We prevented it. They violate our state border with flying vehicles, a helicopter, and so on.”
The head of state said: “Moreover, they launched two missiles this past week. At least two Tochka-U missiles into Belarus’ territory. Fortunately, we’ve managed to shoot them down. This is why if they provoke us constantly, we will be forced to respond.”
About the expected reality: “I am practically convinced that we will not have to fight against Ukraine”
At the same time Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that attempts to get Belarus involved in the conflict in Ukraine’s territory will fail. He stressed: “I am practically convinced that we will not have to fight against Ukraine. The West will be unable to get us involved in this conflict. We are smart enough to stay outside the conflict contrary to efforts of Americans and their partners to get us involved in it.”
“I am convinced that this conflict, Russia's operation will end in peace soon,” the head of state said.
About the key to peace: “Russia offers an absolutely acceptable variant of the treaty to Ukraine”
“I will tell you the key thing for the first time. Russia offers an absolutely acceptable variant of the treaty to Ukraine (Putin to Zelenskyy). I know it for sure. And today it is still possible for Ukraine and Russia to come to terms and for Putin and Zelenskyy to sign this treaty,” the president is convinced.
Ukraine may not like a different scenario: “If Zelenskyy refuses to do it, then trust me he will have to sign an act of capitulation in a short while. Russia will not lose this war. You are 100% convinced of that, too. How does a war end when one side wins? Japan knows it better than I do.”
About a possible ceasefire: “Once the ministers of foreign affairs initial this treaty”
Aleksandr Lukashenko specified a condition for terminating combat operations in Ukraine. The president is convinced that a ceasefire will be possible once the sides initial the treaty, which is being developed on the basis of the talks going on in Belarus. “As soon as the ministers of foreign affairs initial this treaty. But I am absolutely convinced that Russia will not go for terminating or suspending the operation until the treaty is initialed,” the head of state stated.
In his words, Russia bears in mind the recent past among other things: “In 2014 ceasefire was enacted on the basis of the Minsk agreements, the armed forces were separated, and how did it all end? It ended with the current war. This is why Russia has every reason not to trust the current leadership of Ukraine.”
“Besides, Russia intends to accomplish certain goals in this operation. And it will surely succeed in it,” the Belarusian leader is convinced.
About an opportune moment for Ukraine: “Possibly the only moment to honorably recover from the current situation”
Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that Ukraine should grab an opportunity and strike a deal with Russia: “Possibly the only moment for Ukraine to honorably recover from the current situation. The moment may not happen again. A moment. If this moment is lost, it is unlikely to return. Such a situation will not happen again.”
“This is why Ukraine should grab this moment. It will be beneficial for Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. Most importantly, we will save thousands of lives if we sign the treaty,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
About the key forces able to stop the war: “Russia and Ukraine. Or America”
The president also identified the main forces able to stop the war in Ukraine. In particular, the interviewer wondered whether the United Nations Organization or mediators, including China, can be such forces. Aleksandr Lukashenko noted: “Everyone you’ve mentioned influence the situation around Ukraine one way or another. Not more than that. No United Nations Organization has stopped a single war. It will not stop this one either. Just like other countries won’t.”
The president mentioned who can drastically influence the situation for the sake of terminating combat operations: “The war can be stopped by Russia and Ukraine if they come to terms and sign the treaty. Or by Americans, who order Ukraine’s leadership to stop the war. If Americans go for it, then the European Union and the rest will promptly align themselves with the USA and will support the USA’s decision. This is why two forces – Russia and Ukraine. Or America.”