Interview with Associated Press
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko gave an interview to one of the largest international news agencies - Associated Press – on 5 May.
The interviewer was Vice President of Associated Press Ian Phillips, who has worked for the agency since 1994 and has been its own correspondent in Brazil, France, the UK, headed the East European bureau and the bureaus of Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The interview lasted about an hour and a half. Questions were asked about the surprise inspection of the Armed Forces of Belarus, the special military operation of Russia in Ukraine and Belarus' position on various aspects of this topic, the possibility of resolving the conflict through diplomacy. The President opined on a possibility of using nuclear weapons and on where the red lines run.
In an interview the head of state said that Belarus has been doing everything to prevent a war between Ukraine and Russia.
"We are resolutely against wars. We have been doing everything to prevent this war," Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
The President noted that it was thanks to Belarus that the negotiations between Ukraine and Russia were launched. "I know Russia's position. I know what Russia offers to Ukraine. But why Ukraine, on the territory of which there is actually a war, combat operations, people are dying, is not interested in these negotiations, is another question. You need to look to Washington for the answer to this question," the head of state said.
At the same time, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that he did not think that the Russian special operation "would take that long.” “But I'm not so immersed in this issue to say whether it has been going according to the plan as the Russians say, or how I feel it. I emphasize this once again: my feeling is that this operation is taking too long," the Belarusian leader said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko told the interviewer that unleashing a war in the West is absolutely not in the interests of Belarus.
“We do not threaten anyone and are not going to. We will not do it. Moreover, we cannot even do it: we know who is opposing us. Therefore, unleashing some kind of conflict, some kind of war in the West is absolutely not in the interests of the Belarusian state. Therefore, the West can sleep peacefully,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The journalist asked Aleksandr Lukashenko's opinion on the hypothetical use of nuclear weapons in the event of the prolongation of the hostilities in Ukraine and whether he considers it acceptable at all, whether this is some kind of red line in this case.
"I am absolutely sure that the use of nuclear weapons is unacceptable, also because of the proximity. We are not so far away like the United States. This may deorbit our planet and send us spiraling into space.... The use of nuclear weapons is unacceptable," Aleksandr Lukashenko said unequivocally.
He also continued: "Whether Russia can do it or not… You need to address this question to the leadership of Russia.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “It is unlikely that he [Vladimir Putin] wants a global clash with NATO.”
The President said: “Use it and do everything for it not to happen.”
The head of state gave his take on whether the Ukrainian leadership is willing to stop the hostilities through diplomatic means: “Maybe the leadership of Ukraine wants to do it, but it cannot. It cannot do it for one reason: because today it is not Zelensky who runs Ukraine (he should not take offense, this is my point of view). It is you [Western countries] who are calling the shots there,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“If Joe Biden says: “Guys, everyone, you have done enough fighting, you should stop it now, nobody needs this war, it is in no one's interest”, then everything will stop within a week.”
When asked how honestly and openly the leaders of the two states communicate, Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “I doubt that Vladimir Putin has tighter, more open and friendly relations with any world leader than with the President of Belarus.”
Describing the style of communication with the Russian leader, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that he tells everything to Vladimir Putin directly like to an elder brother. Naturally without devolving to insolence or rudeness: “We have very decent, honest, and open relations, particularly now.”
“He and I have good relations, the best relations heads of independent states may have,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
After the interview Vice President of the Associated Press Ian Phillips shared his impressions of the conversation with Aleksandr Lukashenko.
“We have been able to discuss a broad range of topics - from the situation in Belarus to hot international issues,” said Ian Phillips. “We have been able to discuss a number of issues in a very open way. Of course, our opinions did not always coincide. Yet, it is important for us to be able to hear the positions of all sides”.
Ian Phillips noted that interviews with world leaders allow getting objective, accurate, and fair and square information.