Working trip to Kamenets District, Brest Oblast

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Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko made a working trip to Kamenets District, Brest Oblast, on 1 August.

As the President was told, harvest prospects remain good for many crops despite the drought. Corn and sugar beets are expected to yield better than last year. Potato fields are also in good condition.

“Those who stick to technology do not encounter problems,” Deputy Agriculture and Food Minister Vladimir Grakun noted.

“If technology is not observed, planting does not make much sense. What is the purpose of sowing if crops yield 15-20 centners per hectare? In this case we spend more than we get,” the head of state emphasized.

“If people work hard and comply with technology, they can count on our help,” he added.

As far as technology is concerned, things are good by and large in Brest Oblast, Grodno Oblast and part of Minsk Oblast. “We have to strive towards this. We can’t do without technology,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

He demanded to improve the situation in Vitebsk Oblast. It makes sense to plant more early crops there due to the region’s climatic conditions. Such crops include winter barley, rapeseed and a number of others.

“This is my toughest demand - to sow early crops in the northern regions in order to start harvesting earlier. Let’s free up fields and sow winter crops earlier,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state was also briefed on the state of grain harvesting in Brest Oblast. The region has nearly reached the midpoint of the harvesting works, and the yield is comparable to last year’s. The results shown by local agricultural workers suggest that the decision to expand the area under winter rapeseed and barley was absolutely right.

Aleksandr Lukashenko described winter rapeseed as “food, fodder and money-making crop”. In other words, this is a raw material for rapeseed oil and animal feed, and a good export item. Separately, the President asked whether all rapeseed is processed inside the country or some of it is exported as a raw material. He was assured that everything is processed domestically.

Winter barley also yields well. The President pays close attention to this crop, he half-jokingly calls it “a political party crop”. “The yield was great last year. We will put more effort into it,” said Brest Oblast Governor Yuri Shuleiko.

He went on saying that over the past two years a solid material and technical infrastructure has been created in the region; the profit is used to buy new combines and repair old ones.

Representatives of Brest Oblast gifted a loaf of bread to the President. It was the first loaf made of this season’s crops.

A separate discussion touched upon the state of affairs at the Belovezhskoye company. The enterprise performs well, and is constantly expanding due to the incorporation of neighboring agricultural companies. As a result, the profitability and efficiency of these companies increased. On the other hand, even the available lands are not enough to fully meet the demand for animal feed at the Belovezhskoye company.

Aleksandr Lukashenko visited a robotic dairy complex at Belovezhskoye where he talked about the livestock farming technology used at the company. This topic was earlier raised during the President’s recent working trips and the conference call. Earlier, Aleksandr Lukashenko gave an instruction to choose the best option to build new dairy complexes and renovate old farms.

The head of state inspected the fields planted to wheat and rapeseed. He urged to consider a wider use of domestic seeds instead of imported ones. This is also a task for Belarusian scientists.

"The number one task is to make sure that we have them," the President emphasized. Self-sufficiency in seeds is not only import substitution, but also a matter of food security.

It is also important to ensure the high quality of seeds, their compliance with high requirements “so that we do not persuade farmers to use domestic seeds. They should see it for themselves," the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also touched upon this topic when talking to residents of Belovezhsky agro-town. "Our science has a job to do together with plant breeders. You plant a lot of foreign varieties. You buy seeds in Germany, other countries. We need to have our own varieties. Probably it makes sense to buy 15% or maybe 20% abroad to compare and see the difference. We need to do it. But not more. When our science delivers, we will sort things out," the Belarusian leader said.

He also drew attention to the application of organic fertilizers. OAO Belovezhskoye has a good track record in this matter. "You apply everything that is needed for winter crops in autumn. This is great. We still have a lot of work to do. By visiting districts and farms I gather the information about promising areas of development of our rural communities. But we have a good base, we have something to build our successes on," the President emphasized.

Addressing employees of the enterprise and residents of the agricultural town of Belovezhsky, Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked them for their work. “Now this is the country’s third biggest agricultural company in terms of area. It has more than 38,000 hectares of land. But about 20% of animal feed that you use to feed cattle has to be bought. You need to strive to become self-sufficient in animal feed. Of course, you have done a great job. I have noticed that I rarely praise people, but your performance is outstanding. Thank you very much for your work. Our peasants are strong people. I praise you not because I come from a peasant family myself. You are strong people and you are the pillar of the country. And even in those difficult times, none of you went astray. Everyone was in the field, growing food for everyone - both those who deserved to enjoy the results of peasant labor, and those who roamed (mostly across Minsk) and waved their arms. Therefore, you are the foundation of our country,” he said.

“And I don’t regret at all that back in the day we adopted programs to revive the countryside and invested substantial money in agriculture. Today we see appreciable results: last year we did not only feed our people, but also sold a decent amount of foodstuffs abroad,” the President added. “I often meet with the President of Russia, we discuss these issues, align our efforts. We had this gut feeling that these ‘friends’ from the West could create problems for us. Today, both Russia and Belarus are self-sufficient in food. Our people have enough to eat and to wear. This is the main thing. There will never be stability in the country without this. And the clothes, shoes and food come from you, peasants. I wish we had such farms all over the country,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

Speaking about the reasons for this working trip, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that he wanted to see how people work in the countryside in Western Belarus. “They work well. They are doing a great job. Brest Oblast has reached a good level of performance. There is still room for improvement. The same is about Grodno Oblast. Yet, the performance of Brest Oblast and Grodno Oblast is quite decent,” the head of state concluded.

He noted that this year the drought has had its toll on agriculture, especially in the eastern and central regions of the country. “Some areas in Eastern and Central Belarus dried up so much that they were scary to look at. When I drove [past the fields] to Minsk to work, I tried to look away,” the President said.

Rainy weather has recently set in, but we are pressed for time as far as harvesting is concerned. “We haven’t finished harvesting and we have to proceed to grass fodder. And we need to start planting soon, literally from day to day. Therefore, we can’t slow down in any case,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

The head of state was told about plans to ramp up production of finished products at Belovezhskoye and to build a sausage workshop. However, to do this, the existing energy system has to be renovated. The renovation project is estimated at Br16 million. During the conversation with local residents, the President was asked to consider allocating funds for the project.

Aleksandr Lukashenko promised that the government, including the governor, would deal with this issue. “We will think of ways to help you. But I believe that we can give you electricity. This is what the nuclear power plant is for. We have an excess of electricity. But, of course, we need to deal with logistics issues, lay networks and build another substation,” he said.

At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that the country has spare meat processing capacity. Thus, meat processing facilities should be fully loaded.

The President believes that at present demographic problems are more pressing for Belarus than economic ones.

“We have laid a good foundation. We will feed people. We will have enough food to eat and enough clothes and shoes to wear. I don’t think you have any problems with this, but we need to make sure that children receive everything that the state has to offer to them,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted. “The biggest problem now has to do with population numbers, not economy (though economy is the cornerstone of everything). We need a much bigger population,” he said.

The President emphasized that the government will always support families raising many children. Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that other countries do not offer so many benefits as Belarus does. “To be honest, when I think of it sometimes I ask myself whether we will be able to sustain such support forever. It is important that people understand that they should share responsibility for raising their children,” the head of state said.

"We are living in a difficult time. I won't dwell on it. You see it yourselves. I will only say that we are peaceful people, we’ve have enough wars in our history. As a historian, I know this well. There were a lot of bloody battles. Not only Brest Fortress fought to the bitter. Lots of people suffered in that terrible war, the witnesses of which are still alive. Every family had losses. Therefore, I do not want my people, especially while I am President, to go to war. You see what is happening in the neighboring country. They are our cousins, related people. We have a lot of relatives there. It is a terrifying prospect. We draw conclusions, learn lessons. We are not rattling our sabers but are preparing to be able to defend the country at any moment," the head of state said.

The President noted that Belarus is counting on the support of fraternal Russia in this matter. "Without help, it will be difficult. But who will help us? Only our brothers in the east - Russians," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state noted that the Russian leadership responded even to the biggest request from Belarus. The matter is about the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the country. They are a safety factor alongside the nuclear power plant, the President noted. "A nuclear country has never been attacked before," he explained. “We have a nuclear power plant. This, I must tell you, is a very strong safety factor: if it explodes, God forbid, all will be affected. Therefore, you have to be very careful with it. We see what is happening with the nuclear reactors in Ukraine."

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, more than half of the nuclear weapons that were planned to be deployed in Belarus has already been brought and deployed across the country. "God forbid we have to use this weapon. I still hope that this will not happen," the President added. “We don't mess with anyone. Please don't mess with us either. We will ensure our security with the help of our friends."

"Our western neighbors seem to have taken leave of their senses. I just don't know why they are acting the way they do. We lived peacefully, like good neighbors. Then venomous people came to power, I can't call them otherwise, and things went off the rails. But they seem to start coming back to their senses. The Poles are no fools. People there are similar to us. They have just put pressure on the leadership and are starting to get things moving ahead of the elections. I don't even want to talk about Lithuania, Latvia. These are minions. They willingly destroyed their own country: Lithuania used to have a population of 4.5 million. Now it is two million. Where have people gone? But that's their business. We do not interfere in their affairs. We want to have normal relations. Belarusians, Poles, Lithuanians have always lived peacefully. We do not close the border to them. We welcome them to come over, buy stuff they need," the head of state said.

More efforts will be poured into creating a contract army in Belarus, the President said as he met with the residents of the agrotown.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that some units of the private military company (PMC) Wagner had joined the Russian regular army, some are working in Africa, and some are staying in Belarus. The President said: “It was my initiative and I don’t regret it. I want to leave these guys in the armed forces of our country. And relying on them, I’d like to more actively create a contract army. Our active service draftees serve for 1.5 years and leave. I was one of them. Green kids 18 years old. But over there we have experienced people. They are mainly officers. It is their profession to fight or defend the country. They say it is even cheaper. This is why we are looking attentively at this experience in order to protect us in the future. It is our only goal.”

The President went on saying: “This is why don’t worry. We don’t want a war and I think that everything will be normal. If the enemy sees that we will respond in kind and they will incur irreparable losses, losses that will not be acceptable for them, they will never attack us. This is why here is your key task: everyone has a job to do (someone is an accountant, someone is an economist, an executive, a machine operator, a milking machine operator). Everyone should do their job in their own positions.”

“As for this private military company [Wagner]. When those unpleasant events were happening, I had to interfere. Because I understood: if Russia is set ablaze, it will be hot for everyone. It has always been like that over the course of history: revolutions started over there and ended in our country and in Caucasus. And then again they are our kind of people. And I promised these guys: ‘If you stop, I guarantee your security. We will extract you to Belarus and will sort it out later on.’ This is what we are doing,” the head of state recalled how the situation with the private military company (PMC) Wagner had been unfolding.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stated he would like to keep this unit. “They are genuine fighters, who have been to war and who have lost many friends. They help us totally for free and pass on their experience. Although they are mercenaries. They have fought and worked everywhere in exchange for money,” the President said.

“I suddenly hear the other day that Poland has gone crazy, that allegedly some unit as large as 100 people is moving here. No PMC Wagner units 100 people strong have moved here. And if they have, they did it only in order to pass on combat experience to the brigades, which are stationed in Brest and Grodno. I need to train my own military personnel because an army that doesn’t fight is half an army. You also understand it perfectly well. I don’t want to fight. I don’t want our guys to die. This is why they need to be trained. So they are here to pass on their experience. They will give advice and say something. They are very satisfied with our warriors. They say that they are very well-trained people and, most importantly, they want to learn. This is why these guys want to go nowhere. They stay near Osipovichi in the center of Belarus. They are accustomed to taking orders,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that Western politicians are now concerned about plans of the units of the private military company (PMC) Wagner, which stay in Belarus and allegedly intend to occupy the Suwalki Corridor. The corridor is a land route that goes along the borders of Poland and Lithuania and could connect Belarus with Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed: “Listen, the Suwalki Corridor is not in Belarus. We don’t travel along this corridor or towards the corridor. We don’t need it absolutely. Keeping things calm is the most important thing.”

At the same time the President noted that Belarus will move its military units in its own territory any way it wants. “We build defenses according to a plan and bearing in mind even the experience of these Wagner fighters,” he added.

“I made a joke that Wagner fighters are gossiping about going sightseeing to Rzeszow. Why? Because weapons and materiel came from Rzeszow to where these Wagner fighters were fighting near Artyomovsk (Bakhmut). Thousands of their guys died there. And they are in no mood to forgive it. They [Polish authorities] should thank Belarusians and me for inviting these fighters to Belarus. There are thousands of them. I don’t even want to specify. They have a total of over 30,000 people under control now. These guys are willing to fight. They hurt. Many have been maimed and killed. Will they forgive? They won’t. This is why they should pray that we keep them and supply somehow. Otherwise they could have infiltrated Poland and could have delivered a terrible punch to Rzeszow and Warsaw. This is why they shouldn’t reproach me. They should thank me,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stated.

While talking to the head of state, residents of the agrotown admitted that they are concerned about actions of Polish authorities at the Belarusian border and the redeployment of Polish troops and weapons closer to the border.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that Belarus closely watches this maneuvering: “I don’t think they are trying to intimidate us. I don’t think that they are afraid of us. I don’t think that they are doing it due to changes of the situation. After all, they can see that we are not mobilizing the army. We don’t redeploy troops here like it happened in 2020.”

The President went on saying: “Why is it happening now? There are many reasons. We got into a decent international scuffle. The entire Europe. Americans have been destroying Europe since Trump’s time. They need to bet on someone. They are thousands of kilometers away after all. Do you remember the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union? What didn’t the UK like? Everything was normal. But the UK and the USA are bosom buddies. Their relations are even closer than ours with the Russian Federation. This is why the UK is their mainstay, their unsinkable aircraft carrier. On the other side there is Poland. They bet on Poland. They were supposed to bet on us and Ukraine. If we hadn’t persevered in 2020, we would have been dropped into a pile to form a belt from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine as a sanitary cordon between Russia and China in the east. We endured. So, they are betting on Poland now. Poland will still make problems for us. Not Poles. They are smart people. We saw how migrants crossed the border over there, what military personnel did. They didn’t understand why they had been sent there. But their leaders have gone crazy. Americans will bet on them. They will pump them.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that American leaders visit Warsaw more frequently than capital cities of Old Europe, which happens to be in a tight corner. According to the President, Europe is no enemy for the USA but a strong competitor. “Those are high-tech, strong, and rich countries. So, they are now undressing Europe: give money. If you recall, since Trump’s time they wanted Europe to spend 2% of the GDP on weapons. Europe is in a tight corner. They have yet to sort out Europe. They have already humiliated Europe as much as they could. Look: Germany was the world’s fourth largest economy and is now in the 10-11th position. Virtually within two years.”

The President stated that the USA needs a humiliated and crushed Europe, a ruined Russia, and an unhindered access to China.

“This is why the redeployment of these troops is a hoax. They redeploy 500 people here and 500 people there. Intimidation and pressure buildup are in progress. Although I don’t believe that they are trying to intimidate us. I promise you that it is impossible to intimidate us,” Aleksandr Lukashenko summed it up.

One of the residents of the agro-town noted that a law on citizenship that recently came into force in Belarus obliges citizens to report if they have foreign citizenship. There are norms that give grounds for revoking Belarusian citizenship. “What about the Pole's Card? Maybe it should be outlawed altogether and its holders have their rights restricted?" she asked the head of state.

"On the one hand, you are worried that someone may deprive you of citizenship. On the other hand, we need to take tough action against individual holders of the Pole’s Card..." the Belarusian leader said.

"The state can revoke the citizenship of those people who are enemies who, living here or abroad, are working against our country. We had our share of this in the past. That's what the problem is about. We have not yet deprived anyone of citizenship. But they must understand that if they see us as their enemies and are fighting against our country, calling for sanctions (like opposition supporters do), then they will face retaliation. This is what this is about," the President said.

"As for the Pole's Card holders, well, we have clipped their wings a great deal. I feel that this problem is still here. We will revisit it," the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko instructed the President Administration to look into this issue and suggest measures. "I don't want to hurt people either. For example I have many acquaintances in Grodno. Some of them hold public offices. But they have the Pole's Card too. I asked them, ‘Guys, how come?’ ‘Aleksandr Grigorievich, don't worry. If necessary, we'll throw it away tomorrow.’ Well, they say, everybody took this card out. So did we. After all, it did offer some advantages. Everyone took it out, they say, so did we. I don't want to undercut these people. Therefore, steps must be well thought out," the head of state explained.

"People should live freely on their land, in their society. They must have the opportunity to express their position, not to be afraid of anyone. Otherwise, why do we need such a state where people feel suppressed. Therefore, it is very important not to go too far," Aleksandr Lukashenko added.