A free Belarus is a guarantor of security for the entire region.
Can the Armed Forces of Ukraine help overthrow the Lukashenka regime? Why is there a possibility of a nuclear strike against Ukraine and NATO countries from the territory of Belarus? Do sanctions against the Belarusian regime work? Natallia Radzina, Editor-in-Chief of the website Charter97.org, is speaking about this in an interview with Radio NV.
“Do you think Putin put pressure on Lukashenka and persuaded him to participate in the ground operation against Ukraine?”
“I think that no special pressure on Lukashenka was needed. In fact, he has been involved in this war for a long time. Belarus, under his rule, has long been a participant in this aggression against Ukraine.
I watched how Lukashenka and Putin met, and listened very attentively to what Lukashenka said. He called on Putin himself, the man whom there’s no need to call on this, to even more aggressive actions against Ukraine, as well as against other neighbors of Belarus — Poland and Lithuania. So, no pressure on Lukashenka was needed, he didn’t hesitate for long.
Most likely, Putin and his Gauleiter Lukashenka understood that the participation of Belarusian troops in this war against Ukraine is quite dangerous, because a huge number of servicemen, I am convinced, will surrender if they are sent to Ukraine. This is the only reason that used to stop the two dictators from ordering to send Belarusian troops to Ukraine.”
“You say “used to stop”. Isn't there a stopper like this anymore?”
“Anything is possible. I have always said this, and warned the Ukrainian leadership that an attack on Ukraine would be carried out from the territory of Belarus. I have been saying this directly since 2014, when relations between the authorities of Ukraine and Belarus were more than successful, there was active trade, Ukraine was absolutely dependent on the supply of Belarusian oil products. And then no one heard us. We have always talked about the danger of this “northern balcony” for Ukraine. And today it must be said that at any moment the Belarusian army can enter Ukraine. Shelling of Ukrainian territory from the territory of Belarus does not stop.”
“Speaking of shelling. You know, they often say that Lukashenka influences nothing, Putin is in charge of everything, and so on. But how does this mechanism work? Ukraine is under fire from Russian strategic bombers that enter Belarusian airspace. They must obtain permission to enter Belarusian airspace, and are accompanied by Belarusian air traffic controllers. If they do not receive permission, then Belarus must shoot down these strategic bombers. All this formalizes the participation of the Lukashenka regime in the war against Ukraine. What do you think Ukraine's reaction should be?”
“First of all, of course, to stop even talking about any trade with the Lukashenka regime, introduce a complete embargo on trade with Belarus, as was done with regard to Russia. Let me remind you that just three or four weeks ago, the issue of transporting Ukrainian grain through the territory of Belarus was seriously discussed. Lukashenka himself insisted on this, and Putin, and even the UN Secretary General, and the American press said that the United States had no objections against it.
But you need to understand that this means only one thing — circumvention of sanctions. Under no circumstances should even the slightest gap be allowed to appear in the sanctions regime that is in force today against Belarus and against Russia.
It is also obvious that Ukraine has the right to retaliate against military facilities in Belarus. Because not only Russian planes enter the Belarusian airspace, Belarus provides full infrastructure, logistical assistance to the Russian army.
Recently there was information that a Russian military base is being built at the Zyabrauka airfield in the Homel region. Russia is increasing its presence in Belarus, including the supply of new aircraft to Baranavichy. The Iskanders, which Putin said would be delivered to Belarus, are already on the territory of our country. Belarusian servicemen in the Homel and Brest regions informed us about it.
Obviously, we are talking about an additional batch of these missile systems. A nuclear strike on Ukraine from the territory of Belarus also appears likely, since Iskanders can carry a nuclear warhead.”
“I wonder what you think the reaction in Belarus could be, I don’t mean Lukashenka’s henchmen, to a preemptive strike? Although, why preemptive? Now strikes are inflicted precisely on Ukraine. What will be the reaction to the strikes on the Russian military facilities located on the territory of Belarus?”
“The vast majority of Belarusians are against this war today. Belarusian servicemen do not want to fight, Belarusian mothers do not want to send their sons to certain death.
Ukraine today has absolute support from the population of Belarus. Let me remind you that the Lukashenka regime is illegitimate, no one elected him, and 2020 showed that the whole country rebelled against him. Hatred for him, despite the most severe repressions,which fell upon the people, did not go anywhere. On the contrary, today the war in which Belarus got involved because of the dictator Lukashenka has exacerbated this hatred even more.”
“Is it possible to overthrow Lukashenka with the help of the Armed Forces of Ukraine? Do you think this is a realistic scenario?”
“All that is needed is political will. Let me remind you that today the regiment named after Kastus Kalinouski is fighting in Ukraine, and the number of this regiment is constantly growing. The Kalinovites, both fighters and commanders, declare that their goal is not only to defend Ukraine today, but also to liberate Belarus.
If our Ukrainian brothers supported the intention of the Belarusians, it would be in the interests of Ukraine itself. Because a free democratic Belarus is a guarantee of security for both Ukraine and the entire region.
But, as the United States and Great Britain have already stated, a retaliatory nuclear strike will be delivered precisely against Russia.”
“You mentioned Russian missiles, in particular, the Iskanders. We heard a statement from Putin not too long ago that he is ready to hand over Russian Iskander missiles with nuclear warheads. What do you think this could mean? Does Putin want to do a very dirty job with Lukashenka's hands?”
“Yes, it could be so. I just recently spoke with Russian historian Yuri Felshtinsky, we interviewed him for the Charter’97 YouTube channel, and he stated that Putin intends to launch a nuclear strike on the territory of Ukraine, possibly NATO countries, from the territory of Belarus. In this regard, he is interested in the formal preservation of the independence of Belarus.”
Therefore, any referendum on the accession of Belarus is hardly possible today. And this is done precisely so that in the event of a retaliatory strike, nuclear missiles would fly not to Russia itself, but to Belarus. This is such a version, which could be confirmed over time, given that Putin really announced an increase in the number of Iskander missile systems on the territory of Belarus.
But, as the United States and Great Britain have already stated, a retaliatory nuclear strike will still be delivered against Russia anyway.”
“Are we stating that Putin is taking all Belarusians hostage, turning them into a sort of a nuclear springboard for a possible response? Considering that we have heard the reaction from London and Washington that if nuclear weapons are used, including tactical ones, then there will be an adequate answer.”
“As the United States and Great Britain have already stated, a retaliatory nuclear strike will still be delivered against Russia.
However, in this situation I don't think NATO should wait till it happens. The latest attacks on Ukrainian cities have shown that Putin is entering a new phase. And he moved into this active phase solely because of the indecision of the Western countries, because of the delays in heavy weapons supplies that we are seeing.
And it is no coincidence that this happened on the day of the G7 summit, it is just a slap in the face to the West. All this shows how he is not afraid of them. So, in this situation it is necessary to act very tough. And the longer NATO delays its entry into this war, the more impudent Putin will become, the more victims there will be in Ukraine. And Putin will not stop on Ukraine. It is quite obvious that the Baltic countries, and Poland, and, possibly, other countries, including Moldova and Kazakhstan, and further and further down the list, will be his targets. Therefore, here it is simply necessary to make a strategic decision to destroy the terrorist regimes of Putin and Lukashenka. This will help save the world.”
“Natallia, in your opinion, what needs to be done to wake up the partisan movement within Belarus? We are now saying that Belarusians were actually taken hostage. Putin, perhaps, wants to do a very dirty job with the hands of Belarusians and, perhaps, use tactical nuclear weapons to make Belarus an object for a retaliatory strike. Will Belarusians themselves wake up in order to resist, organize a partisan movement, destroy the Russian military units that are on the territory of Belarus, destroy the railway communication? There have already been such precedents. I know it's scary and hurtful. But we understand that it could be even worse. Is Belarusian resistance to Putin and Lukashenka really possible?”
“I think it is. There really was a partisan movement in Belarus all these few months of the war. I think it will continue. Of course, repressions against people intensified after the actions of the “rail partisans”, but I think that their work will continue.
I see from the conversations with Belarusians, to which I dedicate a lot of time, that there is a revolution in consciousness, and there is an understanding that, probably, non-violent methods of fighting the dictatorship, which have been used by the opposition so far, are no longer effective.
Obviously, we have reached the point where the regime is so violent, when laws are passed on the use of weapons against peaceful demonstrators, that there is nothing left but to go underground and engage in partisan struggle. And, of course, the opposition leaders should talk about this, appeal to people with relevant messages — it should be clearly and very precisely articulated.”
“Not so long ago, several high-ranking officials of the Belarusian army resigned, realizing that they might be forced to fight with Ukraine. What do you know? Are these positions now taken by the Russian military?”
“Of course, resigning in the current situation in Belarus is a courageous step. I know that it is not easy to make it, because today there are representatives of the State Security Committee in all military units of Belarus, who carry out the relevant work, monitor the servicemen. When they leave for exercises, they are even forbidden to use phones, all their relationships, all communications are monitored. But, nevertheless, all the servicemen manage to provide operational information about the presence of both Belarusian and Russian troops on the territory of Belarus.
We, journalists, publish all this information. I wish there were more of these resignations, but I remind you that people are being threatened, and this includes threats to harm their families.
The only thing I hope for is that if the Belarusian army enters Ukraine, then a huge number of soldiers, ordinary servicemen, will surrender, go over to the side of Ukraine.”
“Yes, but there is a risk that Russian generals will actually control the Belarusian army.”
“They are already ruling it, de facto. Today the Belarusian army is subordinate to the General Staff of Russia. And all these Belarusian generals are absolute dummies. They carry out orders that come from Moscow, from their Russian counterparts. Unfortunately, there is no need to talk about any independence of the Belarusian army today.”
“That is, options are possible, as you said, that the Belarusian army will surrender to the Ukrainian armed forces. Is sabotage, failure to comply with the order regarding the invasion of Ukraine possible?”
“Of course. I think sabotage and surrender will be widespread.
In general, if we talk about the Belarusian army, today it has 45 thousand people, and experts say 12-15 thousand of them are combat-ready. Basically, we are talking about the Special Operations Forces. Of course, their fighters are brainwashed very seriously. However, I know some of them, there are patriots of Belarus there too.
Therefore, I think that it will hardly be a strong help to Putin if Lukashenka or Putin send this army to fight Ukraine.”
“The protests against Lukashenka that took place in Belarus were also supported by a part of the military. What is known, what is their fate, is there any potential in the current army to support protests against the dictator, if there are relevant conditions in Belarus?”
“In 2020, we really expected this, but, unfortunately, this did not happen. Individual servicemen resigned, went over to the side of the people. Many of them were imprisoned, many were forced to emigrate.
But then we did not observe a mass transition to the side of the people. This was because Lukashenka's absolute support — political, military, and economic — was provided by the Putin regime. Today, Belarusian servicemen see how Ukraine defeated Russian elite units. The myth that this is “the second most powerful army in the world” has been destroyed.
Belarusian servicemen had to wash Russian tanks from the remains of Russian soldiers when they returned to Belarus from Ukraine. That is, of course, it is all demoralizing. Not to mention just moral issues, when it is completely clear that this war was inspired by Russia, that this is a crazy war.
Belarusians do not want to die for the crazy imperial ideas of Putin and the Russians. However, they are completely different people. And if we are talking about sentiments, Belarusians want to live peacefully in their country. I think that as a result of this war, the majority will understand that our future is with Europe, but not with Russia.”
“It was, of course, a good decision to force the Belarusian military to wash the remains of Russian soldiers from the armored vehicles. It was very revealing, such a good demonstration. A big plus for whoever came up with this. Tell us about the current situation in Belarus, what do you know, how sanctions work, what is happening to the economy?”
“The sanctions are working. In fact, today all the giants of the Belarusian industry are standing still and working not at full capacity, but at a maximum of 30%. These are oil refineries in Mazyr and Navapolatsk, Belaruskali, Hrodna Azot, Minsk Tractor Plant.
Most enterprises today are not able to work at full capacity because it is impossible to both export goods and receive funds to blocked accounts of enterprises, trade with Ukraine and Western countries is impossible.
Therefore, today we see both reductions in enterprises, and also a sharp decrease in wages. Pension delays are also predicted in the near future. The situation is quite complicated, the crisis is growing. In autumn, experts predict that the economic crisis in Belarus will deepen.
The so-called Prime Minister Raman Halouchanka said that as a result of sanctions, the Belarusian economy will lose $18 billion this year, and the Belarusian budget is $10 billion. That is, enormous damage will be inflicted. I think that this will affect the activity of Belarusians, as well as the security forces, because the sanctions directly affect them, which will lead to a reduction in the salaries of the security officials themselves. I think that they will no longer defend this fascist regime so zealously.”
“The damage will be colossal, but Lukashenka will continue to suck money from Putin. Will Putin give his friend another opportunity to hold on to power?”
“He can, of course, throw something at him. But it is very difficult to throw ten billion for Russia, which is now waging war against Ukraine. It has a huge number of satellites, ranging from South and North Ossetia, Abkhazia and Transnistria, to the Crimea, for which it is also necessary to allocate funds.
Therefore, Belarus is a rather expensive “pleasure” for Putin. He will not fully compensate the Lukashenka regime for the losses that will be incurred as a result of the sanctions.”
“Natallia, please tell me, has Lukashenka already figured out where to sell oil products? Because the biggest market, as you said, was Ukraine.”
“Fortunately, these oil products do not go anywhere bypassing the sanctions. There were talks that a counterfeit part of oil products goes to Ukraine. The Ukrainians themselves told me that part of the business may still receive oil products from Belarus. If this turns out to be true, then I ask Ukrainian journalists to pay attention to this, just slap these people’s wrists. Under the current conditions, such action means feeding the aggressor.
There are problems, that's why the refineries are standing still. For example, the Mazyr Oil Refinery today operates at only 20-30%. Now there is panic in Mazyr. They assume that Ukraine will strike at the refinery. In any case, Lukashenka himself says so. I do not rule out that some kind of provocation is also possible, that the Russians themselves can strike at the refinery, blaming Ukraine for this. And this may be the reason for the entry of the Belarusian army into the territory of Ukraine.”
“What about the resistance and the leaders of this resistance? Are there any remnants left in Belarus itself, or are all active Belarusians staying abroad?”
“People operate underground in Belarus, otherwise it is impossible today. As soon as people simply raise their head, declare themselves, they are immediately arrested. Today, people are simply arrested even for speaking the Belarusian language on the street, not to mention any activity. Therefore, of course, today the opposition to the regime has gone underground, and everything that is happening is done by partisan methods.”
“Very interesting. That is, the Putin regime came up with such a term “denazification” in relation to Ukraine, as I understand it, that they already carried out the very full-fledged “denazification”, and in fact the Russification of Belarus?”
“Yes, they have been doing it all 28 years of Lukashenka's being in power. And now it has already come to direct occupation and genocide of the Belarusian people. But I think that with regard to Russia itself, we will pursue a policy of “four De-s”: denazification, demilitarization, demonopolization, and democratization.
“Do you believe that Belarus will be a free European country?”
“I am convinced of it. At the moment, the future of Belarus is in the European Union. We will do everything to make it happen.”
“Long Live Belarus, and Glory to Ukraine!”
“Glory to Ukraine, and Long Live Belarus!”