The dictator’s interest should be figured out.
Ukraine should not even think of whether it needs Belarus as a monitor or organizer of the elections. The conclusion is obvious: absolutely not.
During the speech at the Munich security conference, Lukashenka stated that Minsk “is ready to take over responsibility for securing peace in the Eastern regions of Ukraine, and control over the Russian-Ukrainian border, and also to follow the conduct of the elections in Donbas.”
However, first of all, it should be understood what is the interest of Lukashenka himself in this situation. And his interest is clear: in fact, thanks to the conflict in the Donbas and the Russian aggression against Ukraine, Lukashenka managed to break out of isolation, and now no one calls him “the last dictator of Europe.” Lukashenka needs to somehow maintain this status, otherwise he may lose power if at some point Putin decides that this decoration of the “union state” is no longer needed, and everything should be unified so that there is no risk of autonomy, which Lukashenka has so far.
That is, Lukashenka’s interest is to play on the situation in order to show his importance to Ukraine, Russia and the West. And it is precisely for this reason that he comes up with such proposals.
Can Lukashenka be a serious candidate for such a role as an unbiased mediator? I don’t think so.
First, Lukashenka is initially biased due to the fact that he is a military-political ally of the Russian Federation. So, in 2014, he instructed the Belarusian delegation at the UN General Assembly to vote against the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Belarus was among the eleven countries that voted the way Russia needed.
Also, Belarus, voting at the General Assembly and the UN Security Council, manifests itself in the dispute between Russia and Ukraine as a state that always takes the side of the same country, not above the situation.
Secondly, can Belarus, as a country that is highly integrated into Russia both in terms of mentality and in terms of security structures, play some independent role? I don’t think so.
Therefore, voicing of such proposals and ideas is advantageous, first of all, to Lukashenka himself. He gets a certain capitalization from what he says and does. And the Ukrainian president pretends that he believes that Lukashenka is his friend, and Belarus is a friendly state.
By itself, Belarus is not hostile to Ukraine. But it remains a military-political ally of Russia who participated, for example, in the West-2017 military exercises, a country that considers NATO a threat, and Ukraine is seeking membership in the Alliance. All this shows that, in terms of values and goals, we are incompatible with modern Belarus, with the Lukashenka Belarus.
Actually, for these reasons, I would not trust the representatives of Belarus to guard our state border with the Russian Federation, since there would be no guarantee that Belarusians do not work for the “elder brothers” in Moscow.
As for Lukashenka’s words that Belarus is ready to follow the holding of “elections” in the “LNR” and “DNR”, this option is unacceptable for us. After all, Belarus, above all, is known for the fact that since the first election of Mr. Lukashenka there have not been any democratic and free elections in this country. And we will hardly need the help of such a country.
In addition, there are no conditions for us to talk about the conduct of elections in the occupied part of Donbas, that we need some other country to conduct elections. After all, firstly, there was no ceasefire, secondly, the armament was not allotted, thirdly, in the Donbas occupied by Russia, there is no Ukrainian law and freedom of speech. Therefore, it is generally too early to talk about the role of a country in the conduct of elections, and, especially, Belarus, given that many journalists are regularly detained in this country, and freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are constantly undermined.
So, I don’t think that Ukraine should even think on whether we need Belarus as a monitor or an election organizer. The conclusion is obvious: absolutely not.
Oleksandr Khara, Director of the Department of International Multilateral Relations of the Maidan Foreign Affairs Foundation, specially for Glavred