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Belarus Weekly: Lukashenko wants Russia to defend Belarus 'like its own territory'

by Maria Yeryoma April 14, 2023 1:47 PM 6 min read
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends talks between Russia and Belarus at the Kremlin in Moscow on April 6, 2023. (Getty Images)
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In a meeting with Russia's defense minister, Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko requested that Moscow defend Belarus "as its own territory" in the event of an attack.

Meanwhile, Belarus' foreign minister meets with his Hungarian counterpart in Budapest to discuss the countries' continued economic cooperation.

Two high-profile cases against Belarusian opposition politicians result in prison sentences.

Belarus' Defense Ministry announced additional inspections of troops' combat readiness on April 4 at Lukashenko's request.

The inspections reportedly observed combat training activities and the readiness of Belarus' territorial defense system and military as a whole.

A court in Minsk sentences Belarusian lawyer Aliaksandr Danilevich to 10 years in prison on politically motivated charges.

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Belarus Weekly

Lukashenko demands Russia defend Belarus 'like its own territory'

In a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in Minsk on April 10, Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko requested that Russia defend Belarus "as its own territory" in the event of an attack.

"In general, it sounded at the talks (with Putin) that in the case of aggression against Belarus, the Russian Federation would protect Belarus as its own territory," Lukashenko said, referring to his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on April 5.

"These are the kind of security (guarantees) we need," he continued, thanking Moscow for stationing thousands of Russian troops in Belarus.

Lukashenko also claimed that the West has not fulfilled its agreements on security guarantees made under the Budapest Memorandum in exchange for the withdrawal of nuclear weapons.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to Ukraine's President's Office, condemned Lukashenko's request.

"Hard to imagine an antelope asking for security guarantees in the crocodile's mouth.

The only existential threat to Belarus is Russia openly declaring the country's absorption and endangering Belarus people with nuclear antics," he said.

On April 8, Lukashenko met with Putin in Moscow to discuss the creation of the Russia-Belarus Union State, as well as the stationing of Russian tactical nuclear weapons in the country.

A series of joint military drills, visits from high-ranking Russian officials, and covert mobilization efforts have sparked concerns that Minsk might become directly involved in Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, despite Lukashenko's claims to the contrary.

Lukashenko has also said that any so-called "incursion" into Belarusian territory will prompt an armed response, a statement that some experts suggest may be an attempt to fabricate conditions for Belarus' direct military involvement in Russia's war.

Belarus' foreign minister visits Hungary

Belarusian Foreign Minister Sergei Aleinik met with his Hungarian counterpart Peter Szijjarto in Hungary on April 11 for an intergovernmental commission on economic cooperation.

According to Belarus' Foreign Ministry, Aleini and Szijjarto discussed the countries' continued economic cooperation, particularly in the realm of agriculture, industry, energy, and water management. They reportedly signed a cooperation memorandum on nuclear energy.

On Feb. 13, Szijjarto met with Aleinik in Minsk, making him the first EU senior official to visit Belarus in the aftermath of the regime's brutal crackdown on civil society in 2020.

Szijjarto's visit, which he claimed was aimed at promoting peace in Ukraine and ensuring that the "channels of communication" are kept open, took place a few days after European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU would impose additional sanctions on Minsk for its role in supporting Russia's war.

The visit sparked controversy, with critics saying the move goes against the EU's condemnation of Belarus' role as a co-belligerent in Russia's war.

The Hungarian government has repeatedly criticized EU sanctions against Russia over its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, citing their negative impact on the European economy.

In March, Hungary said it won't abide by the International Criminal Court's (ICC) arrest warrant against Putin. Later that month.

Belarus in 2022: War, death, and a very grim place
Belarus entered 2022 gobbled in its ongoing political crisis and finished it as an accomplice in an unprovoked and brutal Russian aggression toward Ukraine. Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko conceded his country’s sovereignty to Russia, becoming entirely reliant on President Vladimir Putin’s wi…

Lukashenko's regime sentences 2 opposition politicians to prison

Two high-profile cases involving Belarusian opposition politicians, Valeryi Tsapkala and Andrei Dzmitryeu, resulted in prison sentences this week.

Tsapkala and Dzmitryeu both tried to run against Lukashenko during the 2020 Belarusian presidential election.

A court in Minsk sentenced Tsapkala to 17 years in prison on April 7 in absentia. He was charged with "violating national security," "financing terrorism," and "slandering" Lukashenko.

Tsapkala, who tried to run against Lukashenko in the elections but was denied registration, fled Belarus in 2020 and currently resides in Latvia.

Meanwhile, Dzmitryeu, who was detained on Jan. 11, was sentenced to 1.5 years for "violating public order" amid the protests that followed the fraudulent presidential election in 2020. He is also accused of having disobeyed official orders and speaking out against Lukashenko's regime.

The regime's crackdown on political opponents began before the 2020 Belarusian presidential election. Siarhei Tsikhanouskiy and Viktar Babaryka, considered Lukashenko's key rivals, were detained in May and June of 2020 – months before the election.

Belarus conducts more combat readiness inspections

Belarus' Defense Ministry announced an additional inspection of troops' combat readiness on April 4 at Lukashenko's request.

The inspections reportedly observed combat training activities and the readiness of Belarus' territorial defense system and military as a whole.

On Jan. 10, Belarus' Defense Ministry announced that it had finished "verifying the credentials of those liable for military service," noting that 95% of those liable had already registered.

Officially, Belarus' Defense Ministry claimed that the ongoing procedures are routine and denied that active conscription is ongoing. Lukashenko ordered to "quietly check" the numbers of available conscripts after a security meeting on Oct. 4, 2022.

Over the past week, several local media outlets have suggested that men have been conscripted in Belarus' Brest and Hrodno regions, sometimes even from their workplaces.

In December, Belarus continued the "verification of military conscripts" and gave them "instructions in case of war," meaning it was obligatory for those fit for service to attend conscription offices.

The Global Firepower Index downgraded its assessment of the Belarusian military's combat readiness to 60th place, 10 spots down from 2022 and 21 spots lower than in 2019.

Minsk court sentences lawyer to 10 years in prison in politically motivated trial

A court in Minsk sentenced Belarusian lawyer Aliaksandr Danilevich to 10 years in prison on April 10 on politically-motivated charges.

Danilevich is accused of having given legal advice to Aliaksandr Apeikin, the former executive director of the Belarusian Sports Solidarity Foundation, which is aimed at supporting Belarusian athletes "amid repressions and violence in Belarus."

Belarusian authorities have accused him of allegedly supporting so-called "extremist activities" and "calls for sanctions" against Belarus.

Danilevich is also accused of having supported Belarusian Olympic medalist Aliaksandra Herasimenia in "calling for sanctions" against Belarus.

Danilevich's politically-motivated trial began in Minsk on March 10. He was first detained in May 2022.

Minsk metro explosion

The Spotlight segment provides readers with the historical context of contemporary events in Belarus.

Twelve years ago, on April 11, 2011, explosions hit the Minsk subway at 17.56, the peak hour of the city's transportation system.

As a result of the attack, 15 people were killed and 387 injured.

According to the investigation, 25-year olds Dzmitry Kanavalau and his accomplice Uladzislau Kavaliou created a homemade bomb and planted it at the busiest subway station in Minsk in an "attempt to destabilize Belarus."

Kanavalau and Kavaliou were detained the next day and sentenced to death.

The case has been considered controversial. Lukashenko visited the sight of the explosion with his youngest son two hours after the attack. Two days later, he claimed the accused were guilty.

The case was put together with multiple inconsistencies. The experts haven't found traces of the explosives on the clothes and skin of the alleged terrorists, and the movement of the accused after the explosion, according to the prosecution, was physically impossible.

The investigation did not provide a motivation for the attack.

According to independent sociological polls, in 2011, 43,4% of Belarusians believed the accused were innocent. Sixty-two thousand people have signed a petition demanding to halt the implementation of the death penalty after the two were executed.

The UN Human Rights Committee found multiple violations in the case and hearing.

International experts concluded that the accused were tortured into testifying against themselves, the court wasn't impartial, and the investigation violated the presumption of innocence.

Kanavalau was killed on March 14, and Kavaliou was executed on March 16, according to the official data. Both were denied the appeal.

Belarus remains the only country in Europe to use capital punishment. Belarusian courts have issued 300 death sentences since independence.

In 2022, Belarus broadened the use of the death penalty to target those opposing the country's involvement in Russia's war against Ukraine.

In a meeting with Russia's defense minister, Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko requested that Moscow defend Belarus "as its own territory" in the event of an attack.

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