March 23, 2023

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The war in Ukraine must stop to avoid a ‘nuclear’ collapse

Minsk | The war in Ukraine must end to avoid the “underground path” of a “nuclear” conflict, the Belarusian president said in an exclusive interview with AFP on Thursday, while ruling that only Kiev and the West had to capitulate to the Kremlin.

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Alexander Lukashenko, a key ally of Moscow, gave the Russian army territory in his country so that it could launch an offensive on Ukraine on February 24.

“Come on, let’s stop. You don’t have to go any further. And there’s a chasm at the top. And, this is a nuclear war. It shouldn’t go that far,” he said during a meeting with AFP at the Freedom Palace in Minsk.

“We need to stop, we need to agree, we need to stop this chaos, action and war in Ukraine,” Mr. Lukashenko added, nearly five months to the day since Vladimir Putin attacked his neighbor, accusing him of “genocide against the Russian-speaking people”. and to serve as NATO’s bridge against Russia.

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Talks that began in the early days of the war broke down, with each side blaming the other. According to the Belarusian president, it is the Europeans and the Americans who encourage Kiev to fight.

“It all depends on Ukraine, and at the moment, the peculiarity of this moment is that the war will end in the most favorable situation for Ukraine,” said Mr. Lukashenko said.

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Territories were conquered and territories lost

It must agree that “weapons that threaten Russia (…) should never be kept on (its) borders,” he noted.

According to him, the “denazification” goal, the “philosophy” announced by the Kremlin about its military intentions in Ukraine.

“The most important thing is Russia’s security.”

And the Belarusian president should be reminded of Vladimir Putin’s warning that his military is not yet fully operational in Ukraine.

“The war going on there is not yet a war Russia can wage,” he said, referring to the “terrifying” weapons Moscow has.

Mr. According to Lukashenko, Ukraine must now accept that the territories occupied by Russia in the east and south have been lost.

“It is not discussed anymore, we could have discussed it in February, March”, he ruled.

He blamed the West for the war and planned to attack Russia.

“We have seen the causes of this war. The reason is that if Russia had not outsmarted NATO, you (Westerners) would have organized and beaten it,” he said. “You’re just pretending, prolonging this war,” he charged.

According to the Belarusian leader, the conflict could have been avoided if the West had given Mr Putin “the security guarantees he asks for” in late 2021 and early 2022. 1997 – before expanding to countries in Eastern Europe – and ending rapprochement with Ukraine, which Russia views as a threat.

“Why did you not give these assurances? It means you love war.”

As for Belarus, Mr. Lukashenko explained that his army was there to prevent “stabbing in the back” from Russia and that it would not go to the battlefield.

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“We are participating in the operation, yes. But how? We have locked down the western and southwestern parts of Belarus so that Russia cannot be attacked from the rear,” he said. “We have not killed anyone.”

“We have the same weapons as Russia, they have enough soldiers to fight, we are not needed there. So why should (Belarusian army) go to Ukraine to carry out military operations?” Lukashenko said.

“Stupid” punishments

Similarly, he said there was no plan to justify Moscow’s military intervention in Ukraine, or Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

“What will that bring?” asked the Belarusian leader.

Although economically very dependent on Russia, which provides credit and cheap energy, present-day Belarus has protected itself from being Russia’s puppet.

“Don’t think that we are a puppet to be manipulated from morning to night. There is no such thing,” he said, adding that Mr. He emphasized his “brotherly” relationship with Putin.

“Credits, we would be ready to take them to France (…), but you spit on us, you tried to sweep your feet on us, on me, on my country”.

And Mr. Lukashenko denounced the “stupid” sanctions imposed on Russia and pointed to an enormous European dependence on Russian hydrocarbons that threatens to spiral into recession if gas supplies are cut.

“Your stupid, barbaric and incomprehensible sanctions situation shows how dependent you are on Russian energy resources,” the Belarusian president stressed.

“Russia (…) needs peace, trade needs peace, it needs to sell gas, you need to buy it,” he noted.

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