Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko acknowledges that Russian forces invaded Ukraine from Belarus at the start of the all-out war in 2022 and reiterates his support for Russia.
Despite this admission, Lukashenko claims to support the territorial integrity of neighboring countries during a meeting with the Chinese defense minister in Minsk.
The European Commission has reallocated nearly $150 million in funding that was earmarked for Russia and Belarus to projects in Ukraine and Moldova due to the full-scale war Russia is fighting.
Lithuania closed two of its border crossings with Belarus, citing threats to its national security. The United States calls on its citizens to leave the country after the closure.
Belarus classifies some of the poems written by the “father of Belarusian literature” as extremist.
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Lukashenko admits Russian forces invaded Ukraine through Belarus in 2022, says it was ‘unexpected’
Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko admitted that Russian forces invaded Ukraine from Belarus at the start of the full-scale invasion in February 2022.
According to Lukashenko, some Russian forces, which he claimed were in Belarus as part of the planned military exercises, “crossed the Ukrainian border from the territory of Belarus” on February 23-24 last year.
He claimed it was “unexpected,” adding that he should not be blamed because no Belarusian forces were involved.
Meanwhile, Lukashenko He said That Russian President Vladimir Putin is not pressuring Belarus to directly join the large-scale Russian war, indicating that Minsk will not send troops to support Russian forces in Ukraine unless Ukrainian forces enter Belarus.
“But we will always help Russia, they are our allies,” he added.
He justified his decision not to send troops by saying that Russia has “enough manpower and equipment” and does not need Belarusian forces.
“Engaging Belarus… what would that give?” Nothing. If you Ukrainians do not cross our borders, we will never take part in this war.”
Although Belarus did not send troops to fight on Russia’s side in the war, it did allow Russia to use its territory to attack Ukraine. Lukashenko has also publicly supported the Russian war.
Lukashenko also said that he believes that Russia has achieved its goals during its large-scale war against Ukraine, adding that Kiev and Moscow should sit down at the negotiating table to discuss the future of Ukrainian lands illegally occupied by Russia.
“Negotiations must begin without preconditions. This is a classic in any diplomacy,” Lukashenko said. “We have to sit down at the negotiating table and discuss everything – Crimea, Kherson, Zaporizhia, Donetsk, Luhansk.”
Kiev says peace talks will only be possible if Russian forces withdraw from Ukraine.
Lukashenko meets with the Chinese Defense Minister in Minsk
Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko he met With Chinese Defense Minister Li Shangfu in Minsk on August 17 to discuss military and economic cooperation.
Li said the purpose of my visit to Belarus is precisely to implement important agreements at the level of heads of state and further strengthen bilateral military cooperation, without giving further details.
During the meeting, Lukashenko claimed that he supports “a multipolar world, territorial integrity and unity of borders and territories formed after World War II,” adding that his regime is “committed to non-interference in the internal affairs of states.”
“China and Belarus share the same basic ideas for the current and future world order,” Lukashenko said, thanking China for its cooperation.
Lukashenko’s claim that he supports the territorial integrity of neighboring countries came on the same day he admitted that Russian forces invaded Ukraine from Belarus at the start of a full-scale invasion in 2022.
Li arrived in Minsk on Aug. 16 for the second half of his six-day visit to Russia and Belarus, during which he discussed “bilateral military cooperation” and visited Belarusian military facilities.
“In recent years, under the leadership of Alexander Lukashenko and Xi Jinping, relations between Belarus and China have been continuously strengthening, developing and moving forward,” Li told Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin, adding that Minsk and Beijing have “genuine brotherly relations.” Relations.”
Li began his journey in Moscow, where he attended the Moscow Conference on International Security, where top defense officials from more than 20 “friendly countries”, including Belarus, Iran and Myanmar, discussed military cooperation.
Li’s visit to Russia and Belarus comes amid increasing Western attempts to isolate the two countries over their role in the all-out war against Ukraine.
EU reallocates funds for Russia, Belarus to Ukraine, Moldova
The European Commission announced on August 16 that it would reallocate 135 million euros ($147 million) of funding earmarked for Russia and Belarus to projects in Ukraine and Moldova.
Cohesion and Reforms Commissioner Elisa Ferreira said the decision to end cooperation with Russia and Belarus was “the result of Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine”.
The funding package forms part of the Commission’s Neighborhood, Development and International Cooperation Mechanism.
The Commission suspended its cooperation with the warring parties for the first time in March 2022 after Russia’s large-scale invasion of Ukraine and reallocated 26 million euros ($28.2 million) to Ukraine and Moldova.
This latest decision means that the remaining funds for the period 2021-2027 will also be redistributed to support EU programs in Ukraine and Moldova.
These programs include improving cross-border transport links, developing healthcare services, facilitating educational and research projects, and strengthening institutional capacities.
“This will help strengthen cooperation between EU regions and local stakeholders with Ukrainian and Moldovan partners,” Ferreira said.
Lithuania shuts 2 border crossings with Belarus
Lithuania closed two of its border crossings into Belarus on August 18, citing the changing geopolitical situation, smuggling and threats to national security.
Vilnius did not specify the reasons behind this decision, although Lithuanian politicians pointed to Russian Wagner mercenaries in Belarus.
Lithuania, Poland and Latvia, which all share borders with Belarus, have expressed growing concern about threats posed by nearby Belarusian military exercises, the Wagner Group’s presence in the country, and the steady flow of migrants amid the Minsk-engineered migrant crisis.
According to Lithuanian Interior Minister Ani Pilotaiti, the Baltic states and Poland will meet on August 28 in Warsaw to discuss coordinated approach To close the border with Belarus to “reduce threats”.
Latvian President Edgars Rinkiewicz announced on August 17 that he had called a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the situation on Latvia’s borders with Russia and Belarus.
The Lithuanian Ministry of Transport said The closures are temporary It will not fundamentally affect the situation at the border, noting that traffic will be redirected from the Tverisios and Sumskas crossings to the Medinkay checkpoint.
A large number of Lithuanian citizens continue to use Minsk visa-free system To travel to Belarus, often to take advantage of the lower cost of goods in duty-free shops at the border.
According to Belarusian statistics, at least 170,000 Lithuanian citizens have entered the country so far in 2023. The Lithuanian government has discouraged its citizens from visiting, placing signs at the border saying: “Do not travel to Belarus. You may fail to return.”
The Belarusian Foreign Ministry denounced the closures, claiming they were “politically motivated” attempts to prevent Lithuanian citizens from visiting Belarus.
After closing the crossings, the United States urged its citizens to leave Belarus or avoid travel to it.
Belarus designates 2 poems by 19th-century author ‘extremist’
The Belarusian prosecutor’s office classified two poems by the 19th-century Belarusian poet Vincent Dunin-Martinkevich, who is considered the father of Belarusian literature, as “extremist material” on August 17.
The Belarusian authorities also applied the label to the preface to his works, written by Yazip Yanushkevich.
Donin-Martsinkevich’s poems, titled “The Wind Is Blowing” and “An Old Man’s Conversation,” concern the January Uprising of 1863, a nationalist rebellion led by Polish Belarusian revolutionary Kastusus Kalinowski against the Russian Empire.
Donin-Martinkevich was accused at the time of spreading ideas “harmful to the authorities”. He was arrested and imprisoned, although his direct participation in the uprising has not been confirmed.
The move highlights the increasing restrictions the Lukashenko regime places on dissent and artistic expression in Belarus.
The Belarusian Ministry of Information has a 600-page repository of material deemed “extremist,” which includes anything from Telegram channels that oppose the regime to fictional pieces of contemporary Belarusian writers.
Wagner's short stint in Belarus
the Highlight This part provides readers with the historical context for contemporary events in Belarus.
Dictator Lukashenko allegedly helped broker a deal for Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin and his forces to move to Belarus after their armed rebellion in late June stopped them from reaching Moscow.
Prigozhin’s armed rebellion began in Russia on June 23, and before it came to an abrupt end, it looked like it was about to turn into open, full-scale violence.
Prigozhin announced on July 19 that his mercenaries had been in Belarus “for a short time” after several announcements in the week prior to their arrival.
“What is happening at the front is a disgrace to which we do not need to participate,” Prigozhin said He said. “We have to wait for the moment when we can fully show what we deserve. So the decision was made that we will be here in Belarus for some time.”
The first six convoys of mercenaries from the Wagner Group receipt In Belarus, the Belarusian Hagun monitoring group reported on July 18.
A private plane was reported to have crashed in Russia’s Tver Oblast, with Wagner Group chief Yevgeny Prigozhin among the passengers, Russia’s state-owned news agency TASS reported Aug. 23, citing the Russian Federal Agency for Air Transport.
Russia’s Federal Agency for Air Transport (Rosaviatsiya) said on Aug. 23 that Prigozhin and his right-hand man Dmitry Utkin were on the private plane, according to the airline.
The future of the Wagner Group and their mercenaries in Belarus is now unknown.