Interview to Agence France-Presse

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Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made a number of comments about topical items on the international agenda and about the situation in the country in an interview with Agence France-Presse (AFP).

During the interview the head of state answered questions about when the conflict in Ukraine will end, how the conflict could have been avoided, and what role Belarus plays in Russia's special military operation in Ukraine. The situation concerning the Ryanair Flight 4978 incident in Belarus' skies on 23 May 2021 and the International Civil Aviation Organization's investigation into the incident were also mentioned.

The journalist expressed the opinion that Russian President Vladimir Putin, judging by his statements, has a dream of some Slavic state.

"It was I who had a dream of a Slavic state. Once they promoted this idea of the Russian world. Since the 1990s, I have always drawn attention that there are Slavic states. Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria and others... We should not lose this connection. Indeed, everyone has their own state. But we are Slavs. I've talked about that. Putin did not talk or dream of any pan-Slavic state. You have made this up," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Asked for how long he intends to remain the president, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed it was up to the Belarusian people to decide. “I could have quit a long time ago if a certain situation had existed in the country and abroad. But since 2020 many of those, who took to the streets, as you say, have come to their senses and understand now what could have happened. They say: ‘We didn't act right. What would have happened if he [Aleksandr Lukashenko] had not been around?' That's what people say. Trust me, I know the mood of the people,” the Belarusian leader said.

“What would have happened if I had abandoned everything and quit in 2020? The country would be totally different right now and you would interview other people. And the policy would be different. Things would be worse in Belarus than they are in Ukraine now. Sorry for immodesty,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.

It is possible to put an end to the war in Ukraine immediately, but there is one important condition that needs to be met, Aleksandr Lukashenko said in an interview.

“Ball is in Ukraine's court now. The thing is that this war can be stopped on more acceptable terms for Ukraine. But no one will let Ukraine end the war,” the president believes.

According to the head of state, first and foremost Ukraine should sit down at the negotiating table. “They should pledge that they will never threaten Russia and will not have weapons on their territory that will threaten Russia's territory. This is the main thing. Denazification and so on is a philosophy. The main thing is the security of Russia. Taking into consideration Russia's power and wealth, the Russian government will not back down from this,” he noted.

“Provide guarantees. Help Kiev. Kiev will give these guarantees if you, NATO members and Americans, agree that there will never be a threat to the Russian territory from the territory of Ukraine. And in this case Russia will give security guarantees to Ukraine,” Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced.

The French journalist asked about Kherson, Donetsk, and Lugansk.

“Listen, this is no longer under discussion. You could have talked about it in February-March. You know, Russian people living there were mistreated by the Ukrainians. Why so? I am not punishing the Poles for the policy that Poland is pursuing towards us. I keep saying that we have ethnic Poles, but these are ‘my' Poles. They have the same rights as the Belarusians. We love, respect and appreciate them. And they act decently by and large. Why would they need to ban the Russian language, why would Poroshenko and Zelensky pursue such a domestic policy in Ukraine? By doing this, they have been pushing Ukraine towards the war,” the president said.

"Now everyone is talking about hunger. I agree that we are very close to that point. Famine is knocking on the door. Many are starving already. You could say, ‘Not critical yet'. How is it not? A child dies every 10 seconds in the world. Not a famine yet? It is. It's going to get worse. I am closely monitoring the harvesting campaign and ask a lot from farmers and the whole country. We must crop everything. We need to mobilize. Famine will bring about dictatorship, including in France. Because we need to save people. Not to feed, but to save them from dying," the Belarusian leader said.

According to him, such strict requirements from the head of state can be regarded as a dictatorship, but in this case they are justified by an important goal - to improve people's lives, to prevent critical situations. "You are welcome to criticize me for this. But I want people to live better tomorrow. It is not like I have gone crazy, sitting here, in the center of Europe, in a relatively small country, with a small population, and seek to impose my will and harass my own people, who voted for me a long time ago and still support me," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.