Belarus Opposition Leader Believes Lukashenko Has Ceded Control to Kremlin Amid Ukraine Conflict

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Belarusian opposition leader, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, believes that Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko has effectively ceded control of his country to the Kremlin by enabling Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine. In an interview with The Guardian, Tsikhanouskaya stated that although Lukashenko denies his armed forces’ involvement in Ukraine or plans to join the war on Russia’s side, Belarus’s military is now indirectly under Kremlin control.

According to Tsikhanouskaya, signs of military occupation and a potential deployment of Belarusian troops inside Ukraine raise concerns about a major escalation of the war. She accuses Putin of attempting to implicate Lukashenko’s regime in the conflict to make it an accomplice and put blood on the hands of Belarusian soldiers.

Tsikhanouskaya and her fellow campaigners have a two-fold mission: opposing Lukashenko’s regime in Minsk and mobilizing Belarusians to resist and even sabotage the Ukraine war through civil disobedience. They aim to persuade Belarusian troops not to participate in the conflict and communicate with the soldiers’ mothers to prevent their children from going to war.

Belarus became a launchpad for Russian military actions in Ukraine, with Moscow allegedly deploying 30,000 troops into Belarus in the weeks preceding the invasion. Lukashenko revoked Belarus’s constitutional neutrality, allowing permanent Russian forces and even nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil. This move, coupled with the abandonment of Belarus’s nuclear-free status, raises strategic concerns for the West.

Tsikhanouskaya argues that Putin controls Belarus through Lukashenko and warns that if Putin desires to take full control of Belarus, he could do so at any moment. She calls Lukashenko a puppet and emphasizes the interdependence of Ukraine and Belarus in Putin’s imperial vision.

Tsikhanouskaya urges Western governments to recognize the strategic link between Ukraine and Belarus, emphasizing that thwarting Putin’s assault on Ukraine requires countering his accomplice in Minsk. Protests against the war have emerged in Belarus, leading to arrests, while Tsikhanouskaya believes a Belarusian war resistance movement is growing.

The EU recently imposed new sanctions against Belarusian regime-linked individuals, but Tsikhanouskaya believes remaining loopholes must be addressed. She calls for targeting Belarusian judges who have imprisoned political prisoners and advocates for international pressure despite potential hardships for ordinary Belarusian citizens.

Tsikhanouskaya concludes by expressing her personal horror at the Russian attack on the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, citing her upbringing in a region affected by the Chernobyl disaster. She emphasizes the Kremlin’s disregard for people’s suffering in its pursuit of power and the uncertainty surrounding its red lines.

In summary, Tsikhanouskaya believes that Lukashenko has relinquished control of Belarus to the Kremlin amid the Ukraine conflict, posing significant implications for both countries and the democratic world.