Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko met with representatives of U.S. analytical centers, who are in Belarus on a visit on 5-6 November.
The head of state remarked that this meeting is important not only for the Belarusian-U.S. relations but also for the entire European region. “At present the military and political situation in Eastern Europe remains quite complicated, as well as in Europe in general. Unfortunately, there is no obvious way out from the situation,” the president said. “Politicians, who get carried away with their own rhetoric, cannot come to an agreement. The military hope for the best as usual but have to prepare for the worst. Meanwhile, people are still dying in the neighboring Ukraine. Your current status and the format of our meeting enable us to openly discuss the most important issues for our region.”
At the beginning of the meeting Alexander Lukashenko pointed out a few key ideas. He stressed that Belarus is a young sovereign state pursuing an independent foreign policy, with a balanced pragmatic position on a wide range of topical issues of international security.
“While restoring normal relations with the United States, maintaining good-neighborly relations with the European Union, expanding partnership with NATO, Belarus is committed to building an equal dialogue with all parties. We stand for more openness and understanding to enhance regional security,” the Belarusian leader said.
In his words, Belarus pays much attention to topical issues with neighboring countries. “This pertains to the NATO member states and other countries that are not part of the alliance,” Alexander Lukashenko specified.
Belarus is located between the two largest centers of power, the president said. “Being foreign policy experts, you understand all the risks that any military confrontation between the West and the East can bring about. Our country is absolutely not interested in conflicts, either hot or frozen, be it a neighboring country or our own territory,” the head of state remarked.
The president emphasized that the military doctrine of Belarus is of an exclusively defensive nature: “I have repeatedly said that our country will never be a threat to neighbors.”
Alexander Lukashenko also mentioned that Belarus is in a military alliance with Russia, whose relations with the West are not at their best. “Nevertheless, no bases of other states have been set up in Belarus yet,” he said.
In his words, the Russian military presence in Belarus has been a hot topic lately. "This is a made-up problem. We are in a military-political alliance with Russia. There is absolutely no difference if there is a military base here or not. We are not deploying this base here not because we want to show you or someone else that we are sovereign and independent. We are not deploying it because there is no need to. According to our joint military defense plan with the Russian Federation, we will fulfill the functions vested in us by ourselves,” the president stressed.
“Moreover, our army is capable of countering any aggression and responding to any conflict in Belarus. We are capable of fulfilling the functions vested in us under the agreement with Russia. If we could not do this, believe me, we would have addressed Russia for help. There is no such need today,” the head of state said.
Alexander Lukashenko noted that the country’s armed forces, which have already been reformed four times, are able to ensure security of the country and fulfill their functions better than any other state, including Russia. “I say it openly. This is why we do not need any bases. Should we need them, we will honestly tell about it,” the president noted.
He stressed, however, that if NATO continues to “intimidate” by deploying bases in Poland, or in any other way, Belarus will need more sophisticated weapons, first of all, missiles. “As you can see, we have lately developed our own rocket industry and produced high-precision missiles,” Alexander Lukashenko said.
“Therefore, I do not see any need in involving another state, including Russia, to help us perform our functions. This is why we are categorically against the deployment of a base, especially an air force base. The estimated time of arrival of any aircraft from Russia, if needed, is 3 to 5 minutes. Why do we need a base here? Why do we need to become a target for a potential aggressor by deploying an air base,” the head of state noted.
He added that any talks of a Russian military base are nothing more but just empty talks. “Should the need arise we will announce this openly. But we do not want to initiate any steps so that you would think that Belarusians are some deranged people: say one thing, do another and prepare for war. We do not want this,” he said.
“However, should the need arise, we will defend ourselves differently. You know that we lost every third citizen in the last war. We fought shoulder to shoulder with you against the Nazis,” the Belarusian leader added.
“We realize that our security directly depends on the situation around us and are doing our best to stabilize the regional situation. We are not trying to escalate or aggravate it. In the current conditions any actions disturbing the fragile status quo in the region will lead to more escalation which will definitely affect our country as well,” Alexander Lukashenko emphasized.
The head of state added that as a European state Belarus is interested in strong and united Europe, in solid transatlantic partnership. “This is a crucial pillar for our planet and we have no right to destroy it. We are convinced that the security of the entire continent depends on the unity of countries in the region and the preservation of the military and political role of the United States in European affairs. We do not exaggerate. Unfortunately, we will not handle any issues, including the Ukrainian conflict, here without the United States,” the president said.
He invited the analysts to openly discuss any issues and ask each other any questions during the meeting. “I hope that this conversation will, first of all, help you understand our view of the complicated military and political situations in the center of Europe. I also hope that your comments will help us understand the approaches of the western countries, first of all, of the United States and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, to our country and the region in general.”
“If we make even a tiny step towards better understanding of each other at the end of the meeting, we will proudly say that our mission has been accomplished,” the Belarusian leader concluded.