The security of the entire region is in danger.
The construction and modernization of roads is in progress on the territory of the Olman wetlands, located in the Stolin district, Brest region. One of them costs about $1 million.
Environmental experts ring the alarm, as the Olman wetlands are ones of the largest in Europe. Large-scale construction is inflicting huge damage on the unique ecosystem.
The Belarusian authorities believe that the construction of roads in the territory of the Olman wetlands will ease the transportation of round timber and sand extracted in quarries from the territory of the protected area.
At the same time, an employee of one of the Ukrainian ministries informs Charter97.org on condition of anonymity that the road infrastructure built in Belarus facilitates the access of border guards to places of service and provides an additional opportunity to deploy the Belarusian army's military equipment to the Polessky training area.
In addition, the road infrastructure can be used to deliver manpower, weapons and military equipment to the border with Ukraine.
During 2014-2017 the Belarusian authorities created a number of approach roads from the rear arears of Belarus and forest roads; their length is about 96 kilometers.
Approach roads were paved to the frontier post "Olmany", bordering the village of Perebrody in Dubrovitsky district of Rivne region and to the frontier posts "Mutvitsa", "Khinichev", checkpoint "Selishche", bordering the villages of Drozdyn, Zabolotie and Poznan in Rivne region of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian cities of Zhytomyr and Novograd-Volynsky are in close proximity to this sector of the Belarusian-Ukrainian border. Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, is in dangerous proximity.
Why have the Belarusian authorities started building the military infrastructure near the Ukrainian border? How can this affect the balance of powers in the region?
Charter97.org asked Belarusian volunteer in Ukraine Vadzim Kabanchuk and director of the Maidan of Foreign Affairs Foundation, head of the Kiev organization of the UKROP Party Bogdan Yaremenko for comments.
Vadzim Kabanchuk: It's about the security of the entire region
"The border activity of the Belarusian side takes place against the background of the simmering Ukrainian-Russian conflict. All these actions may bear consequences," the Belarusian volunteer in Ukraine stated.
Vadzim Kabanchuk points out that the infrastructure, the Belarusian authorities deal with, is not for logging, which is officially declared.
"The cost of the road is not worth the forest to be transported. The construction of this road has no economic value," the Belarusian volunteer says.
Vadzim Kabanchuk notes that the Ukrainian security agencies are well aware of what the Belarusian army means and work on counter-actions.
The Belarusian activist pays attention to another threat near the Belarusian-Ukrainian border:
"Such infrastructure is being built in the Chernihiv region. Roads are being built in forest belts, which directly approach the border. The Belarusian army is creating additional approaches to the Ukrainian border. What's it done for? I won't waste time to put it mildly: all these objects are of military importance.
The volunteer believes that if Belarus fails to resist the Russian influence, the security of the entire region may be at stake.
"For Ukraine it means 1000 kilometers of additional front line in the North. If Belarus loses its independence, Russia can spread its military force onto the entire region. It's a direct access to Poland, Lithuania and Suwalki corridor," Vadzim Kabanchuk says.
According to the activist, the construction of military infrastructure may be the fulfillment of some agreements or promises made to the Kremlin.
Therefore, Vadzim Kabanchuk believes that the official Kiev should change its policy towards Belarus:
"The Ukrainian authorities should support the democratic opposition and civil society in Belarus. Unfortunately, today the official Kiev contacts only Lukashenka.
The information coming from Belarus shows that the situation in our country may suddenly change. It is hard to predict in which direction, but, unfortunately, the Ukrainian side does not take measures for greater informational and political influence on the situation in Belarus," the interlocutor of Charter97.org said.
Bogdan Yaremenko: Ukraine should freeze political dialogue with Lukashenka
"Ukraine, regardless of actions of Minsk, should consider Belarus as a direction from which hostile activity can be carried out," the head of the Kiev UKROP Party Bogdan Yaremenko said.
The expert notes that Minsk and Moscow fully coordinate their actions in the military sphere, as Lukashenka is a direct ally of the aggressor country:
"All preparations in Belarus, Russia's ally, should be taken by the Ukrainian authorities as harm to the national security of Ukraine".
The director of the Maidan of Foreign Ministry believes that the Ukrainian military should take into account the potential threat of the military infrastructure being built near the Ukrainian border and counter it:
"Lukashenka's regime is getting more vulnerable because of the Kremlin's pressure. Therefore, the threat to Ukraine will only increase northwards. The Russian Federation is very strict about its actions on the territory of Belarus".
Bogdan Yaremenko explains Lukashenka's activity in the Ukrainian direction as a reaction to the danger posed by Ukraine to his regime:
"We are the country with developing democracy and a very popular tendency to defend freedoms, dignity and human rights, which means, from the point of view of Lukashenka, subversive activity".
The Belarusian authorities are actively opposing free exchange of opinions, travels of citizens of Ukraine and Belarus, trying to respond to public opinion leaders. Director of the Maidan of Foreign Affairs Foundation noted that actions of his organization also caused discontent of the Belarusian authorities:
"Our theoretical developments about the war between Ukraine and Russia were not allowed through the territory of Belarus even in transit. They were simply seized from passengers. Any desire for a free exchange of views is suppressed as a visible threat to the Lukashenka regime".
The politician notes that the Ukrainian authorities do not support opposition and democratic movements in Belarus:
"I think that sooner or later the Ukrainian government will realize that the situation in Belarus is not the problem that only public organizations should worry about. Ukraine will have to support democratic changes in Belarus. This is what awaits us".
Bogdan Yaremenko calls on the official Kiev to respond to the military infrastructure near the Belarusian-Ukrainian border:
"Today the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry turns a blind eye to what is happening in Belarus. The Belarusian territory breaches rights and freedoms of Ukrainian citizens, while Russia is increasing its military presence".
According to the expert, the first step the Ukrainian authorities should do is to move the platform for negotiations on Donbas from Belarus to another country:
"Belarus cannot be considered a neutral territory where negotiations on ending the war with the Russian Federation can take place".
Bogdan Yaremenko calls international organizations to respond to the Belarusian authorities:
"We ought to put Belarus next to Russia. The political dialogue should be frozen to the maximum".
At the same time, according to the director of the fund, practical and pragmatic relations between citizens of Ukraine and Belarus should be preserved:
"If it's not about the state business, which we observe and which supports Lukashenka's regime, then such ties should take place. A very selective and competent policy should be pursued and which could lift accusations of mass neglect of human rights violations in Belarus and playing along with the dictator. This is not a simple but very clear policy," the interlocutor of Charter97.org summed up.
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