The opinion of the Lithuanian and Ukrainian experts.
After the hijacking of the Ryanair plane, Lukashenka began to be perceived in the world in a completely different capacity. If earlier he was nicknamed "the last dictator of Europe," now they speak of him only as a terrorist. The usurper has become a real threat to international security and a factor of instability in the region.
How to solve this problem? The Charter97.org website spoke with the Lithuanian political scientist Marius Laurinavičius and the Ukrainian journalist, editor-in-chief of the Censor.net portal Yuri Butusov.
Only the mafia is involved in the smuggling of people, not the government
Lukashenka is trying to arrange a humanitarian catastrophe on the borders of the European Union. Lithuania stated that the flows of illegal immigrants from Belarus have reached a historical maximum.
Marius Laurinavičius, a senior analyst at the Vilnius Institute for Political Analysis, noted in a commentary for the website Charter97.org that the actions of the Belarusian authorities are increasingly reminiscent of the behavior of a criminal group:
- As one more piece of evidence that, for the Belarusian authorities (they cannot even be called authorities because this is an illegitimate government), there are no international legal norms. They behave like a criminal regime. This is the smuggling of people, to put it in a completely understandable language. Only the mafia is involved in the smuggling of people, not the authorities.
Dialogue with Minsk is a mistake
An analyst of the Vilnius Institute commented on the statement of the deputy of the Lithuanian Seimas Laurynas Kasčiūnas, who proposed to build a wall on the border with Belarus. Marius Laurinavičius says that such security measures should have appeared a long time ago:
- Lithuania can use the armed forces, that is, our army, if the situation deteriorates and this has already been discussed. I think that, with such a regime, of course, not only now it is necessary to build walls, it should have already been built.
Also, the Lithuanian political scientist criticizes the policy of dialogue with the Lukashenka regime, which for a long time was dominant in relations between Brussels and Minsk:
- Even in Lithuania, unfortunately, a year and a half ago, this regime was assessed as, of course, undemocratic, but there seemed to be such a concept that it was possible to somehow cooperate with these authorities, to find some kind of common language.
It turned out to be a big mistake. I have always said that there is no point in negotiating with such regimes.
“The EU understands that Lukashenka’s regime is a terrorist regime”
Marius Laurinavičius notes that today Europe is united in its approach to the Belarusian authorities:
“The EU understands that Lukashenka’s regime is a terrorist regime. All representatives of the EU countries probably spoke about this frankly, I don't even know who did not say this after the Ryanair plane landed.
I will repeat once again that I am very sorry that only such actions made many people in Europe and even in Lithuania open their eyes. It was clear long ago that this was a criminal regime.
Even if we talk about some international norms, in 1995, Lukashenka shot down a balloon and killed two Americans. Even then it was clear what kind of power it was. Then he killed the opposition figures; again, everything was clear to everyone. Even the Council of Europe carried out its own investigation, and it was established there that it was a crime by the authorities, but, for many years, they turned a blind eye to these crimes, and what we have now is partly the fault of the European community.
"Criminals must be treated like criminals"
Are the countries of the West ready for tougher measures to solve the problem of the threat to European security, which the Lukashenka regime has become? An analyst at the Vilnius Institute believes that today it is necessary to raise the issue of cutting off the dictator from funding:
- Today we are not talking about political pressure, because such actions are not effective with criminals. Criminals must be treated like criminals. If we are talking about international terrorism, and we are talking about this, then we must act as with international terrorism. First of all - to cut off from financing. Do whatever is possible to prevent the regime from funding itself. This will not lead to the downfall of Lukashenka tomorrow, because this regime is also supported by Putin, but to make it cost the Kremlin as much as possible. This cost of maintaining Minsk will lead Putin to think that maybe enough will be enough.
Mass protests changed the perception of Belarus in Ukraine
Lukashenka’s regime threatens not only the security of the European Union but also Ukraine. The dictator hints at the recognition by his regime of Crimea as part of Russia. The issue of military security has become acute because the Belarusian usurper is a loyal vassal of the head of the Kremlin. However, for a long time, the Ukrainian authorities have been in dialogue with Minsk. Yuri Butusov, editor-in-chief of the Censor.net portal, believes that the perception of Belarus changed after the protests in 2020.
- We can say that, after Ukraine saw the protests of Belarusians and usurpation authorities, then the attitude towards Belarus was changed all over the world, both in Europe and Ukraine. If these mass protests had not happened, the people would not have taken to the streets and had not offered civil resistance, the attitude would not have changed, but the events of 2020, in principle, changed everything.
How does the Ukrainian government perceive Lukashenka today? Yuri Butusov believes that Kyiv sees the Belarusian dictator as a close ally of the Kremlin:
- This is what led to the complete rupture of the Minsk platform for negotiations. Moreover, this led to the non-recognition of Lukashenka as the “president of Belarus,” that is, he was not officially recognized as the head of state. Any of his actions will simply deepen this gap and this will have consequences for Belarus.
Of course, it will be impossible to maintain that level of turnover. The recognition of Crimea by the Lukashenka regime will contribute to the fact that, following the political gap, the economic gap will also deepen.
"Contacts are gradually being phased out"
The editor-in-chief of the Censor.net portal believes that Kyiv reacted rather promptly to the seizure of the Ryanair plane by the Lukashenka regime. Ukraine was one of the first to close its airspace for Belarusian aircraft:
- I think that quick sanctions because of the plane are connected specifically with the defiant nature of air piracy performed by Lukashenka. Naturally, Ukraine acted quickly in this case.
Yuri Butusov noted that Lukashenka has long become a factor of instability for Ukraine. Today, contacts with the Belarusian regime are being curtailed:
- All these years of the war, tensions grew at the borders because Belarus took part in joint maneuvers with the Russian army.
We had to take into account the presence of Belarus as another springboard for aggression against Ukraine, so, naturally, there was no perception of Lukashenka as such a close ally. It was just a platform, a valid gateway through which a significant part of contacts with the Russian Federation passed. Now the value of this gateway has been practically zeroed, the contacts that went through this channel are gradually being phased out.