Ukraine needs to stop the war and start rebuilding its statehood on a healthier foundation before it ceases to exist completely, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said in an interview with Ukrainian journalist Diana Panchenko on Thursday.
- Ukraine could lose everything
Ukraine could lose all of its territory if it chooses to continue fighting, Lukashenko said, insisting that Kiev should first “end the war” in order to preserve its statehood. “Yes, you can continue to struggle for these territories,” he said, pointing to Donbass, Kherson and Zaporozhye on the map. “I’m not telling you to give them up or anything. But choose another method. If you fight for these territories, you will lose those,” he added, pointing to the areas further west.
“The war was avoidable... at any point in time. It can be stopped now and it could have been avoided then,” Lukashenko said, noting that in 2015, he was at the heart of events and facilitated communication between then-President of Ukraine Pyotr Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The Minsk agreements should have been implemented. We agreed on everything... But they were ignored,” he said, adding that Putin was “100% ready” to implement the agreements, but Poroshenko was “afraid that the wrong people would have been elected” if Donbass returned to Ukraine as an autonomous region.
- Belarus will go to war if Ukrainians cross the border
Lukashenko stated that Minsk will “keep helping our ally Russia,” but if “Ukrainians do not cross our border, we will never get involved in this hot war.” He went on to say that dozens of NATO and other countries are backing Ukraine with military coordination, intelligence, and training, as well as ammunition and weapons supplies, while “only Belarus is openly helping Russia.”
- Russia has enough firepower
Lukashenko also rejected as “complete nonsense” the notion that Putin is pressing him to become more involved in the conflict. He observed that Russia has more than enough manpower and firepower to reach its goals, saying, “an additional 70,000 troops will change nothing.”
- Putin withdrew troops from Kiev to avoid civilian casualties
The Belarusian leader dismissed suggestions that Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky protected Kiev and that the Ukrainian army repulsed the early Russian invasion, calling the idea a “fairy tale... cooked up by mass media and Zelensky himself, in order to present him as a hero.” Lukashenko claimed that, at the time, Putin told him Kiev could be captured “right away, instantaneously, but a huge number of people will die.”
Lukashenko noted that Ukrainian forces had deployed not only tanks but multiple-launch rocket systems in the streets of Kiev, near “kindergartens, schools, hospitals,” and other public buildings. “You probably know that the Russian troops, who were on the outskirts of Kiev, withdrew from there. Did [Zelensky] destroy the Russian army there? No... He was sitting in a root cellar at the time,” Lukashenko said.
- Main Russian objective already achieved
Moscow has already reached the principal aim of its military operation in Ukraine, the Belarusian president continued, explaining that “Ukraine will never be so aggressive towards Russia after this war ends, as it was before. Ukraine will be different. People in power [there] will be more cautious, smart – more cunning if you will.”
- Zelensky ready to surrender western Ukraine to Poland
Lukashenko believes that in order to get Ukraine into NATO, Zelensky might go as far as to surrender part of the country’s territory under a Polish protectorate. However, he said “Ukrainians themselves will not let it happen.”
“If they come in, they will not go away, because Americans are standing behind Poland. Well, this will be Polish territory. Why would NATO not accept them in this case? It will already be Polish territory,” Lukashenko said.
“This is unacceptable for us and for Russians. It is necessary to preserve Ukraine's integrity, so that the country will not be sliced up and divided by other countries. Negotiations come next,” he added.
- Ukraine is not Zelensky, and Zelensky is not Ukraine
Lukashenko claimed that Ukrainians are increasingly disenchanted with Zelensky, who is not a “national hero,” but an image created for international audiences by the Western propaganda machine, drawing parallels to how, before the Soviet Union’s collapse, the West “went into raptures about Gorbachev” in a similar fashion.
“People in Ukraine are beginning to see things clearly. And millions of people who fled the country are raising their voices saying that they want to return home and asking why the war is still going on,” he said. “There is a growing understanding that Zelensky should find a way out of this situation, to put it mildly.”
- Only the United States benefits from the war
The Belarusian leader said the US-led forces seek to weaken Russia with the help of Ukraine. “It does not bother them that the Slavic peoples are fighting with each other, and killing each other. It is beneficial for them. Thus, having weakened Russia, they will get closer to China from this side. That's their rationale. Zelensky is playing along. But in the end, Ukraine – a flourishing, beautiful country blessed with natural resources – will cease to exist.”