Here’s why Belarus supports Russia in the Ukraine crisis and what Lukashenko think of Ukraine-West relations

Belarus, which means White Russia, is a pro-Moscow East European state under autocratic leadership, which borders both Ukraine and Russia.

Some argued that Putin chose to meet Western leaders at the long table because he refused to take the Covid-19 test conducted by Kremlin doctors. Lukashenko, who allowed Russian troops to invade Ukrainian territory from the north using Belarusian territory, categorically cannot refuse Kremlin-administered tests before meeting with Putin.

But Putin has also recently chosen to meet with some of his top officials, such as Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu, suggesting he is the country’s sole decision-maker. Neither Lavrov nor Shoygu may have a problem with the Kremlin-administered trials.

Whatever the real reason behind Putin’s close meeting with Lukashenko, their alliance is pretty clear. Some Western officials suggest that Belarusian armed forces may join Russian forces to invade Ukraine.

Belarus hosts thousands of Russian troops, allowing Moscow to launch a major attack on Ukraine from the north.

“I completely agree with him,” Lukashenko said of Putin’s concerns regarding Ukraine-West relations. He agreed with Putin on the Russian notion that the country’s national and regional security interests were compromised by NATO’s eastern expansion into Eastern Europe, where Belarus is also located.

Here’s how Lukashenko’s Belarus feels so close to Putin’s Russia?

Unlike Ukraine, where protests backed by the West overthrew a pro-Russian government in 2014, the 67-year-old president’s government is entirely dependent on Moscow’s support. Like Ukraine, Belarus saw widespread protests in 2020-21, threatening to oust Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994. He is known as the longest-serving president in Europe.

Backed by Russia, Lukashenko, who was once seen carrying his rifle during last year’s protests, suppressed anti-government protests with brute force. Shortly before, he took part in a controversial presidential election in 2020, in which he was accused of rigging. Unlike Ukraine, Belarus is landlocked, and Lukashenko sees Russia as his backer.

Like Putin, Lukashenko also believes in “Slavic brotherhood, in blood” and blames the West for creating a rift between Ukrainians and Russians, two Slavic nations. “But we will return Ukraine to the arms of the Slavs. We will certainly do that,” he said, explaining his support for Putin’s policy towards Kyiv.

He also suggested that Russia and Belarus are not only Slavic, but also wish to keep former Soviet lands away from Western influence. Since the start of the Russian offensive last week, Lukashenko has supported Putin’s war on Ukraine.

He also indicated that Belarus could be nuclear if the West threatened. On Sunday, the country held a referendum to renounce the country’s non-nuclear status, which was accepted by a majority according to the results.

While the country has no nuclear weapons, it can deploy them from Russia, which has already put its nuclear weapons on “high alert” under Putin’s instructions. If the West threatens Belarus, Lukashenko further pledged this week that he can “deploy not only nuclear weapons, but super-nuclear ones and those to come, to defend our region.”

Despite defending the Russian agenda, Lukashenko is still cognizant of the fact that an escalating war could harm not only his leadership but also Belarus, a country stuck between the West like Ukraine, and Russia.

This dilemma may play a role in why Belarus hosted the first ceasefire talks between Ukraine and Russia. On Tuesday, he reiterated his offer to mediate between Ukrainian and Russian leaders to negotiate.

identity of Belarus: Belarus means White Russia or White Russia

Belarus means White Russia or White Russia, indicating the close identity ties between Moscow and Minsk. Many Belarusians, including Lukashenko, prefer to speak Russian, and not the native Belarusian language, which was marginalized under Soviet rule.

According to a survey conducted last year, 86 percent of respondents have a very positive perception of Russia as a state and 96 percent of them view Russians as a people very positively. Possessing a 60 percent approval rating, Putin enjoys high support among Belarusians.

But interestingly, the same survey suggested that 43 percent of Belarusians still see Russia as the biggest threat to their country’s territorial integrity. Attitudes towards Russia are also changing rapidly in Belarus since widespread 2020-21 protests against Lukashenko’s government.

Pro-Western protests showed that more Belarusians, especially youth, wanted to associate themselves with the European Union rather than Russia, later Belarus in a political union according to the “Treaty on the Creation of a Union State of Russia and Belarus”. may involve. Signed in 1999.

Are Belarusians part of the ‘Russian nation’?

“Russians, Ukrainians and Belarusians are all descendants of Ancient Russia, which was the largest state in Europe,” Putin wrote in an article last year, referring to the first Russian state established in the 9th century with its capital, Kyiv.

Because of that historical beginning, which suggests that Kyiv was the first capital of the Russians, Putin feels emotionally close to Ukraine, a former Soviet republic and a country where some parts were ruled by Tsarist Russia for at least two centuries. were in Therefore, he denies the sovereignty of the country.

For similar reasons, Putin considers Belarus “part of the greater Russian nation, which united Velikorussians, Malorusians and Belorussians.” Velikorusian or ‘Great Russia’ refers to the leadership based in Moscow, Malorusian or ‘Little Russia’ refers to Ukraine and Belorussian refers to present-day Belarus.

But Putin’s historical approach has some problems. Putin’s “Ancient Rus”, which is historically Kievan Rus, was founded by Rurik, a Varangian-native prince, who brings together not only Slavic peoples such as Ukrainians and Belarusians, but also some Scandinavians and Baltic peoples. As does the Vikings and Finns, who were not Slavs. , Rurik himself was considered a Viking.

According to Putin’s point of view, the present-day Swedes, Norwegians, Finns, Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians must also be descendants of Ancient Russia. But none of these countries currently consider themselves Russian.

Interestingly, Russia recently warned both Sweden and Finland of “serious military-political repercussions” if they join NATO after both states declared their support for Ukraine in the ongoing war.

There is another problem with Putin’s stance. Many Belarusians no longer establish direct relations between themselves and Moscow in the historical sense. A 2021 survey showed that nearly 40 percent of Belarusians consider themselves descendants of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a state of Baltic origin with a history dating back to the 13th century.

The same survey also indicated that most Belarusians no longer see Russia as the main source of their national consciousness.

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