Belarus is to strengthen security along its borders with Ukraine to stop the arms traffic. The announcement by President Lukashenko caused a lot of questions and sparked discussions on both sides.
Even at the peak moments of the conflict in the East of Ukraine, Belarus didn’t propose anything like that.
Experts believe this may be a part of new, tougher Belarus policy towards Ukraine dictated by Moscow.
The announcement followed Ukraine’s proposal to relocate the talks of the *Trilateral Contact Group (TCG) on the settlement of the situation in Donbass from Minsk to another city during the 73rd session of the UN General Assembly.
The proposal to include the issue to the agenda of the session was supported by 68 states. Belarus was among the 13 states that voted against it.
Permanent Representative of Ukraine to the United Nation Vladimir Yelchenko:
“It seems to me that we have to draw serious conclusions from the positions of Belarus and Kazakhstan. Everything is clear with the votes of Syria and North Korea, as they are just proxies.
But as for our neighbors, our former partners in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), I can’t understand why they vote against,” he told Priamyi TV Channel.
Yelchenko noted that Belarus always emphasizes its neutrality but keeps voting against ‘any our ideas and proposals’, even those that don’t concern the conflict with Russia.
“With all my respect for Belarusian diplomacy, I just can’t understand such a stance. What neutrality can we talk about? And let them don’t take offense at us, but the facts are reflected on the General Assembly board.”
First Deputy Chair of the Verkhovna Rada (the parliament of Ukraine – note BelarusFeed) Irina Gerashchenko:
“Neutral countries, although abstaining, voted with a yellow button. Belarus once again spoke with one voice with Russia and joined the infamous “13”, who voted against by pressing the red button.
This is not a neutral position. This is a complete play for Moscow. And this position is completely contrary to the status of the country, which is a platform for peace negotiations to resolve the situation in Donbass.
I am for the relocation of the platform to a truly neutral country, which is not playing along with Moscow and not voting with the Kremlin in unison – against Ukraine.”
Analyst of the Belarusian service Radio Svaboda Yury Drakokhrust:
“The president’s statement is an echo of the meeting with Vladimir Putin in Sochi.
More precisely, it is a reaction to the impulses that emanated from the Kremlin both at the meeting and before it. Relations between Minsk and Kiev, from the point of view of Moscow’s, were until recently too warm.
Lukashenko is cooling them. Lukashenko indirectly admits that the change of policy has a political background, saying that the Ukrainian theme was discussed in Sochi.
And the point is not that Putin convinced the Belarusian colleague of the danger that comes from Ukraine. Lukashenko is able to assess the degree of this danger himself.
The demonstrative strengthening of the border regime is a kind of ‘excuse’, the answers to Moscow’s wishes: you wanted our relations with Ukraine to become worse – we make them worse, but in the least painful form for ourselves (and Ukraine).”
Coordinator of the analytical project Belarus Security Blog Andrey Porotnikov:
“Lukashenko’s statement may simply be the inertia of his thinking.
Say, when a war is going on in a neighboring country, arms are spreading in all directions. Respectively, there is a threat that these weapons will go across the border in the direction of, for example, Belarus.
But if you look at the open data of the State Border Committee, you won’t see any flow of weapons, extremists, terrorists or other things from Ukraine.
There is usual smuggling, illegal movement of food, consumer goods, garbage exported from Belarus to Ukraine, some berries, mushrooms, and so on. That is, it is a question of petty criminal activity, nothing extraordinary happens.”
Mr Vorotnikov also notes that such a situation is a very sensitive issue for Ukraine.
“When a head of state of a neighboring country says that there is a flow of weapons from the territory of Ukraine, this automatically means that the government of Ukraine, its law enforcement agencies, including border guards don’t control the situation on their own territory.
That is, Ukraine is a weak or failed state, and these are exactly the messages promoted by Russian propaganda and not only in the Russian information field, but also in the West.”
According to the expert, a near-crisis situation is aggravated by the behavior of Belarus at international forums.
The *TCG is a group of representatives from Ukraine, Russia, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe that was formed to stop the war in the Donbass region of Ukraine.
The representatives of the group occacionally gather in Minsk, Belarus, to discuss and resolve current issues.