Meeting with members of Security Council, leadership of Council of Ministers
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko hosted a meeting with members of the Security Council and the leadership of the Council of Ministers on 1 March.
“We planned today's meeting with the government to discuss a number of the country’s most important economic issues. However, recent events in the world, and most importantly, their speculative interpretation in the media, the internet, especially from our self-exiled opposition with their brazen lies, predetermined a new format of the meeting to include members of the Security Council and our experts. I can see that there is a need for a clear analysis of the events in Ukraine, taking into account their prerequisites on the basis of reliable facts,” the head of state said.
At first, he presented an analysis of the origins of this serious European conflict. “We all hope that it will not escalate into a global one. It began before 2014. That was the time when it first entered an active combat phase. What preceded it?” the Belarusian leader.
The West’s absolute disregard for the security system, the destruction of the hard-won system of checks and balances after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The degradation and devaluation of international treaties and agreements led to an escalation of the military and political situation in the region.
Increased militarization continues, especially in Poland, Ukraine, and Lithuania.
Financing of the national armed forces has long surpassed the NATO requirement of 2% of GDP. “This was Donald Trump’s requirement. Today it is even higher,” the head of state said.
The United States increased its military budget in 2022 by nearly 4% (almost $770 billion), Ukraine increased its military budget to 6% of the GDP.
Radicals have been Ukrainizing the country fast using the tools of Nazi propaganda and simultaneously destroying the Russian culture, language, historical memory, including in the territories inhabited by ethnic Russians.
“Today we can see the tragic result of all this in Ukraine. Did the majority of the Ukrainian population want to see this? No. The Maidan did its job,” the President said.
The coup d'etat was carried out with the support of outside forces. Blood was spilled. War broke out in the Donbass. All of Europe shuddered.
“To stop the massacre in Ukraine in 2014, we immediately started peacemaking processes. We advocated for a peaceful settlement and an end to the loss of life and suffering. We offered Minsk as the venue for the Trilateral Contact Group at the request of Russia and Ukraine. It was the Minsk agreements that stopped the bloodshed. In October, I suggested using Belarusian servicemen, first of all our border guards, as a peacekeeping force to separate the conflicting parties in the Donbass. At that time there was no interest in this proposal. We returned to this topic in the autumn of 2017 at the UN Security Council. And again we heard silence in response,” the head of state said.
It was obvious to everyone that the prerequisites for the conflict had not gone away. Moreover, the West stepped up militarization of the region. It dragged Ukraine into this story by giving the unrealistic promises of the country's admission to the European Union and NATO. “The goal was one: to provoke us, first of all, Russia. Many European politicians say it openly today," the President said.
Meanwhile, civilians continued to die in the Donbass. "No one in the West seems to have noticed that war," the President said. “There were no photos in the Western press of children hiding in the basement during the shelling. There were no photos of numerous victims of the Ukrainian aggression against civilians. Were those deaths not enough for Europe to sit down and decide on confidence- and security-building measures in the region, taking into account the new realities?”
He continued: “We sounded the alarm in various international organizations, put forward a number of major initiatives to restart the international dialogue on European security (Helsinki-2), supported all peace initiatives and were their participants.”
Belarus remained committed to the relevant international obligations even after the major countries withdrew from them. In August 2019, it was announced that the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty would continue to be implemented. Belarus, unlike the United States, did not withdraw from the Treaty on Open Skies. The country also remained a party to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe. "We comply with these treaties, although the well-known countries have wiped their feet about them," he said.
The Russian leadership also appealed to the United States and NATO with proposals to launch an open dialogue on security issues. Its suggestions were ignored directly or indirectly.
Russian President Vladimir Putin repeatedly and openly called to respect Russia's security interests. Those calls fell on deaf ears.
Ukraine, meanwhile, was pumped with weapons and encouraged to take revenge on the Donbass. Nazi extremist organizations flourished. In 2020, they began to destabilize the situation in Belarus. "The coup attempt was made according to the Ukrainian scenario with the active involvement of Ukrainian nationalists and cyber warfare centers that are located in Ukraine," the Belarusian leader said.
Training camps in the Volyn region, near the Belarusian borders, trained "volunteers" to participate in the Belarusian events. They were set up with the knowledge of the Ukrainian authorities. "This fact, by the way, was publicly confirmed in court by the detained commander of the Donbass battalion Semenchenko. There is also indisputable evidence that the Ukrainian special services assisted the Avtukhovich gang with acquiring ammunition in Ukraine and moving it to Belarus. This is not the only case. We told our people about it. Think about it, there are more than 15 political emigre centers and units on the territory of Ukraine that are engaged in recruiting and in supporting self-exiled opposition members from Belarus," the head of state said.
In 2020-2021 alone Belarusian border guards and Ukrainian services found four caches with weapons and ammunition on the Belarus-Ukraine border. There were anti-tank hand grenades, explosive devices, explosives in large quantities, cartridges.
In general, the activities of 12 agents and personnel of the Ukrainian special services were stopped in the territory of Belarus over the past three years. “We can name them all. They needed to destroy the so-called Belarusian balcony before dealing with Russia. Back then it was our assumption, but now we know it for sure. Remember, this is the point. Before fighting against Russia, they wanted to practice on us. When the blitzkrieg failed in Belarus in August 2020, they began to strangle us economically. And the Ukraine that every Belarusian loves aligned itself with the anti-Belarusian rhetoric,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
Ukraine announced a “dramatic change in the Belarus-Ukraine relations” and terminated an interstate dialogue at the highest and high levels, and banned Belarusian news channels.
Official Kiev supported the West in its anti-Belarusian rhetoric and joined the EU sanctions against Belarus. It closed its airspace for Belarusian aircraft.
The parliament of Ukraine became the main platform for biased, anti-Belarusian rhetoric, lobbying for support for the radical Belarusian opposition, financial aid and resources for the self-exiled opposition. “All this was done at the behest of certain forces. You know them well. Had Western sponsors not pushed these forces in the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, there would not have been such commotion in the parliament.
Ukraine banned the import of Belarusian electricity, introduced restrictive measures on the supply of certain Belarusian goods, and imposed targeted sanctions against some domestic oil refining companies and producers of potash fertilizers.
Provocations on the state border intensified. From November to January alone, Ukraine violated the airspace of Belarus three times. “I am talking about Ukraine now, not about the West,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.
“What our Western neighbors were doing meanwhile? Operational and combat training activities intensified tremendously, while the missions they practiced were by no means of a defensive nature, as they tried to convince us. They were offensive in nature. Aerial reconnaissance along our borders intensified to 15-20 flights per week. The objective was to examine our air defense system and assess our capabilities. They put our facilities on the map. What for? For defense purposes? We also saw the active preparation of the military infrastructure (airfields, ports, storage hubs, transport communications) to receive large groupings of troops. The European Union has taken significant steps to facilitate the movement of foreign troops within its territories through the adoption of the so-called military Schengen,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “Echelons with weapons, ammunition, equipment and manpower from Great Britain, Germany, the Czech Republic and other countries were moving towards Eastern Europe without any obstacles,” the head of state noted.
Under the guise of addressing the migrant crisis, a group of troops was formed in the neighboring countries allegedly to shield the borders from illegal migrants. According to available data, the group exceeded 30,000 people. Ukraine dispatched over 6,000 people to the border with Belarus at the initial stage.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine embarked on the operation Polesie in order to prepare their troops for operations in the Belarusian direction, they began to arm nationalist formations for this purpose.
After that, along their northern, eastern and southern border, from Lvov to Odessa, they started the Metel 2022 exercise involving about 30,000 more people. They started treating Belarusian citizens traveling to Ukraine with suspicion. And all this against the backdrop of information hysteria, far-fetched accusations against Belarus of preparing an aggression.
“Taken together, all these facts clearly indicated the possible preparation of the West for aggression against Belarus and Russia,” the President noted.
In this situation, the heads of state of Belarus and Russia decided to check the response forces of the Union State. “What’s new here? We saw tension, so Putin and I decided to check our forces,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The final stage of the inspection was a joint operational exercise Allied Resolve 2022. The inspection was designed to reaffirm strong relations between the two countries, and their commitment to defending national interests.
"By the way, at the end of the exercise, Russian troops prepared to leave for bases and some began to leave (TV footage attests to this). However, the West needed a military conflict, and to accuse Russia of an aggression. Their reaction was an information campaign with fake news and economic measures. They readied an 8,000-strong group for deployment to Europe, of whom about 2,000 arrived at our border by 20 February. Biden was sending a rapid reaction force — the best-trained troops — from different theaters of operations to our border. The question is, why they needed them here, near Belarus?” the President said. “Supplies of weapons to Ukraine went off the charts, U.S. planes arrived daily bringing anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles, as well as other weapons and ammunition. At the same time, the Ukrainian Armed Forces significantly intensified the shelling on civilian targets in the Donbass with missiles, large-caliber artillery, killing innocent people.
"As you remember, thousands of refugees fled to Russia. I was meeting with Putin at that time," the Belarusian leader said.
"In the current situation, I asked the Russian President to keep a part of the forces in Belarus to cover the Gomel direction. The middle of our border with Ukraine is impassable with forests and swamps, rivers. We have troops to cover the Brest direction. A good brigade and not only are deployed there. But we never had forces in the Gomel direction because we never intended to fight with Ukraine and never thought that we would have any threats from Ukraine," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“Due to the increased military activity of the Armed Forces of Ukraine and the resumption of hostilities along the line of contact, the heads of the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic requested military assistance from the Russian Federation. As you know, it was provided,” the President said.
“Russia had no other choice. We saw clearly what could happen to us. We did not get involved in the conflict. We did not provoke anyone. For me it was important to protect the southern border of the country,” the Belarusian leader stated.
In his words, Russian President Vladimir Putin decided to conduct a special military operation in the Donbass. “Plans also included the use of the Russian troops temporary stationed on the territory of Belarus. I was informed about it at 5am on 24 February. Before such a decision was made, Belarusian and Russian intelligence services detected several anti-aircraft and missile divisions on Ukrainian territory in the vicinity of the Belarusian border (it was about 23.00 on 23 February). Those systems were on standby to strike Russian troops on our territory, the troops I asked Putin to keep in Belarus for some time,” said the head of state.
According to him, the Americans were leaking intelligence data to the Ukrainian side: “Satellites were hovering over our territory. Today, it is very difficult to hide anything, and no one was hiding anything. All the intelligence data was sent to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Otherwise, why would they have needed to deploy heavy weapons to our border?”
Simultaneously with the announcement of the decision to conduct the operation, Russia launched a preemptive strike on these heavy weapons, positions to prevent losses on its side and any impact on Belarus. “If they had not done it, those missiles would have fallen on Gomel and Mozyr,” said the head of state.