22 March 2019, Friday, 16:51
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Former NATO Secretary General: No Reforms May Start War and Annexation in Belarus

Anders Fogh Rasmussen

This was stated by former Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

The West does not have a plan B for Ukraine, and Belarus may follow the Ukrainian scenario, if no reforms are started. This was stated by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Secretary General of the North Atlantic Alliance (NATO) in 2009-2014 and an advisor to the president of Ukraine, in an interview with Liga.net.

- How do you see the plan of the OSCE Special Representative to Ukraine, Martin Sajdik, to resolve the conflict in Donbas?

- What plan?

- This document proposes to combine the mandate of the OSCE and the UN in one structure, to hold local elections under the supervision of this structure.

- I haven't heard about it. I would say that the only way to end the war in Donbas is to launch a peacekeeping mission with a UN mandate. It will provide it with security to control the border between Russia and Ukraine until your countries conclude a final settlement agreement.

- This month the second Minsk accords mark four years. Ukraine believes that the process is stuck.

- Yeah, it's true. No progress is observed. The main drawback is that Ukraine cannot fulfil part of its political commitments under the Minsk Accords (to introduce the autonomous status of Donbas in the Constitution and to hold elections in the occupied territories - editor's note) without starting a peacekeeping mission. This mission could be a safeguard against the Russian Federation's cheating and leaving its troops in Ukraine. I do not still see how to perform the Minsk Accords in this situation.

- Does the West have Plan B to resolve this?

- Probably, it does not. I see the UN peacekeeping mission as the only option. I think it will take at least 20.000 international troops to control events in Donbas.

- What do you think of new sanctions against Russia?

- I support the new sanctions (the next day the EU imposed sanctions on Russia for aggression in Azov - ed.). And I think the European Union was right to impose personal sanctions in response to the poisoning in the UK.

- About Nord Stream 2. Its launch may be damaging to Ukraine's economy.

- Yeah, but it will not ruin the economy. Of course, it will bear some losses. The most important thing to note is that Russia does not need Nord Stream 2 as a commercial project; it is only politics. Russia intends to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas. In conditions with sanctions against Russia, Nord Stream 2 may serve as an instrument to influence sanctions.

- Does Germany realize that the new pipeline is undermining the Ukrainian economy?

- Yes, of course. Angela Merkel promised help to Ukraine. My situation understanding is that if part of the Russian gas transit still passes through Ukraine, Russians may stop supplying gas through your territory at any time in the future. There are no guarantees. Your economy may be encompassed with unpleasant surprises. Therefore, I think we should convince the supporters of Nord Stream 2 to freeze the project.

Europe should make a decision that makes Russia comply with EU energy directives. But I am concerned that the Germans will not freeze the project, but they are the only ones able to do this.

- You see that Russia continues its aggressive policy towards its neighbors. Now it is Belarus' turn. It seems that Russia is approaching the western borders.

- The key risk is the repetition of the Ukrainian scenario with war and annexation in Belarus. Such a scenario is awaiting that country if it does not start reforms. My advice to the Belarusians is to begin reforms leading to democracy and freedom in order to protect themselves from Russian aggression. Only these things will create protection from Russian aggression.

We remember the statements by Vladimir Putin; he said that Belarus should become part of ‘the great Russian power’, as well as the Crimean peninsula. And I would like Belarus to get more assistance from the West. But we need to see Belarus’ switch to freedom and democracy.