Belarus has become a Russian Federation’s outpost.
During the last Belarusian-Russian-Serbian exercises Slavic Brotherhood-2017, the observes could see just a "theatrical performance", and the exercises themselves were held without international supervision, Ukrainian Ambassador to Belarus Igor Kizim stated. Speaking at the Ostrogorski Forum in Minsk, the diplomat called on the Belarusian authorities to be more open in connection with the upcoming Belarusian-Russian military exercises West-2017, tut.by writes.
The first point in Ambassador Kizim’s speech was that Belarus should not underestimate external threats.
– Unfortunately, hybrid wars are prepared not at the point they start, but much earlier. In the case of Ukraine, there was a betrayal on the part of the higher generals, starting with the fact that the last deputy defense ministers were Russian citizens.
According to the ambassador, Kiev had high hopes for the international community’s support.
"The defense of each country is, first of all, the matter of the country itself. Hopes for partners did not answer the expectation. We did not get support, including lethal weapons. The Crimea’s annexation happened without a single shot, because we were not ready for armed aggression at the border check points that were occupied. According to the charter of any border force, the soldier is supposed to open fire. There was not a single shot. Influenced by the Slavic brotherhood propaganda, we could not shoot at Russian soldiers. We hoped that they would agree at the top. They did not agree.
Igor Kizim noted that before the war, Ukraine, just as Belarus today, did not believe that there were external military threats.
– All our attention was focused on our neighbors – no, not Belarus, other countries that had territorial claims to Ukraine. In 2013, no one could foresee what would happen. Do not get complacent, there are threats that cannot be seen. The most terrible for us and useful for you is that all the countries have unfortunately made conclusions out of the Ukrainian example. Something that we had failed to do out of the example of Georgia.
The diplomat explains the increased NATO activity at the Belarusian borders by Russia's aggressive behavior.
– But what is remarkable, if NATO exercises are held in Lithuania and Poland, they clearly declare their intention: to prevent Russian aggression in the Suwalk corridor (the territory of Poland and Lithuania between Belarus and Kaliningrad region.) Has the real aim of the West-2017 exercises been declared? No, it hasn’t.
At the same time, Kizim noted that according to OSCE regulations, Minsk should announce it at least a month before the exercises, which are to be held in September.
– Nevertheless, yesterday, the exercises of Belarus, Russia and Serbia Slavic Brotherhood - 2017 were held. My military attaché went there, and a demonstrative farce was arranged for them. They were shown a theatrical performance of capturing a terrorist group on a dam. A very well done one. And the exercises were held somewhere else, where not a single observer or a military attache was invited. It is necessary to demonstrate more openness.
According to the ambassador of Ukraine, NATO perceives Belarus "as an outpost of the Russian Federation, i.e. as Russia", and therefore joint exercises raise such concerns.
– Everyone chooses his own form of protecting his safety. We have chosen ours, you have chosen a different one, and we respect that.
At the same time Kizim noted with regret that many analysts in Belarus use the Ukrainian example in a negative way.
– It is presented in the following ways: "We do not need a conflict, as in Ukraine, stability is needed, etc." You will be able to make use of these statements for a while. But you shouldn’t put it in the way I heard it the first thing when I came here 2-3 months ago: everything bad comes from Ukraine, weapons are imported from there, border crossers are captured, boys, who have been to Ukraine, are condemned for various made up reasons.
The diplomat stressed that illegal border crossing is a crime, and Ukraine is ready to cooperate with the Belarusian authorities in order to curb such incidents.
The West-2017 exercises will be held in September, it is planned to involve about 3000 Russian servicemen and 280 pieces of military equipment. The Baltic States and Ukraine fear that Russian troops may not leave Belarus after the exercises.