Alexander Lukashenko, the current president of Belarus, delivered his annual address to the people and parliament a few days after the Russian president announced plans to deploy tactical nuclear weapons in that country.
Lukashenko has spoken extensively about the war in neighboring Ukraine, in which his regime is aiding Russian aggression. From the speech, which lasted more than four hours ( according to the estimates of the Belarusian propaganda telegram channels ), we chose several most important quotes, and checked some of them.
Russian nuclear weapons: Western sanctions and Putin’s pressure
The return to Belarus of Russian nuclear weapons exported to Russia in 1996 will mean serious changes for both Belarus and Russia. For the Russian Federation, this is the first deployment of such weapons on the territory of another state since the collapse of the USSR, while Belarus had a nuclear-free status until February last year, written in the constitution.
The topic of Russian nuclear weapons was first and central in Lukashenka’s address. He linked the return of the country’s nuclear status to Western sanctions and stressed that it was his idea, not Vladimir Putin’s.
“Under the current circumstances, I strongly intensified negotiations with Russian President Putin on the return of nuclear weapons to Belarus. It was on the return of nuclear weapons that were withdrawn in the 90s under guarantees – no sanctions against those who withdrew, no pressure, no planning of offensives and revolutions. Everything is trampled down, everything is broken,” Lukashenka said.
He made a reservation that Vladimir Putin also exerted “the most severe pressure” on him. “I still remember him saying: you understand, they will crush, destroy. And you will not be able to service strategic warheads … Then there was incredible pressure, and I was forced to retreat under guarantees,” he said.
The referendum on the exclusion of the clause on nuclear-free status from the Belarusian constitution was held on February 27, 2022. 82% of the participants in the plebiscite voted for the new constitution of Belarus , which aroused suspicion among the opposition in Europe as well.
Later, answering the questions of those whom the Belarusian state media called “invited” (pro-government journalists and specially selected people portraying some categories of the population important for the regime – for example, “father of many children”), Lukashenka spoke even more sharply: “It will be necessary – Putin and I will decide and introduce here, if necessary, strategic weapons.”
“They must understand this, scoundrels there, abroad, who are trying to blow us up today from inside and outside. We will stop at nothing, protecting our countries, our states and our peoples,” Lukashenka stressed (quoted by TASS).
There is no clear definition that distinguishes tactical nuclear weapons from strategic ones, but strategic ones have more power and a longer range.
About war and escalation
Lukashenka began talking about the war in Ukraine with a call for peace and even said that he was going to offer to stop the hostilities.
“We need to stop now, before the escalation begins. I’ll try to take the risk of offering to stop the hostilities. To declare a truce without the right to move groups of troops and transfer weapons and equipment. Everything is dead. Freeze!” Lukashenko said, speaking about the war in Ukraine.
The Belarusian president did not tell about the details of his “peace plan”, if it exists. The Ukrainian authorities view Belarus as an accomplice in aggression, not a neutral intermediary.
“I’ll give you insider information: today people on both sides of the front in Ukraine are already agreeing, commanders of companies, platoons,” Lukashenka added. Neither Russian nor Ukrainian sources have previously mentioned such negotiations.
However, rather quickly, the Belarusian leader switched to the usual rhetoric about the insignificance of the Ukrainian conflict and Russian weapons.
“If tomorrow the slightest conflict breaks out in some part of the planet, they will forget about Ukraine. No one will bring them or give them weapons,” Lukashenka assured. “People don’t want to fight.” At the same time, both European countries and the United States repeatedly assured that they would help Ukraine both financially and militarily, and after the war, as much as needed.
At some point, Lukashenko spoke about the ceasefire as a fact.
“If the West once again tries to use a pause in hostilities to reinforce its actions by deceit, Russia is obliged to use the full power of the military-industrial complex and the army to prevent the escalation of the conflict: phosphorus ammunition, depleted uranium, and enriched uranium, if there is another deception” , – he said.
Putin referred to the supply of anti-tank shells with a depleted uranium core from the UK to Ukraine, presenting this as a basis for deploying nuclear weapons in Belarus. Depleted uranium munitions are not nuclear weapons, and the plans for the nuclearization of Belarus clearly should have begun to be implemented long before Putin’s statements .
It is worth noting that Russia has long been accused of using phosphorus munitions during the Ukrainian war.
About the “Polish threat”
Lukashenko drew attention to the strengthening of the Polish army, which intensified after Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, and even stronger after February 24 last year and a full-scale invasion.
“Only in accordance with the latest contracts, Poland will soon receive 366 Abrams tanks and 1,000 South Korean Black Panthers, as well as 900 K9A1 self-propelled howitzers, 38 HIMARS MLRS launchers and 50 Javelin anti-tank systems, 1,500 Barsuk infantry fighting vehicles of its own production. “, Lukashenka said.
“A decision was made to increase the size of the armed forces to 300,000 by 2035. That is, almost twice as many as Poland has today,” he added.
Lukashenka interpreted this as a sign that Poland was about to attack Belarus.
“They are preparing to invade the territory of Belarus to destroy our country. They are turning our fugitive militants into bandits who they don’t feel sorry for. They don’t feel sorry for them. We also have this information. Today they are getting their first experience in Ukraine. True, more like cannon fodder,” he said.
Neither in Poland, nor in the leadership of NATO, nor in the United States did they talk about plans to attack Belarus.
Source : BBC