Meeting with Russia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov
Belarus and Russia can build such an architecture of relations others will envy, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergey Lavrov in Minsk on 30 June.
Sergey Lavrov conveyed greetings to Aleksandr Lukashenko from Russian President Vladimir Putin, although the heads of state personally met only a few days ago. "Thank you, it's nice anyway," the Belarusian President said.
"He [Vladimir Putin] supports our intensive allied dialogue," the Russian foreign minister added.
"You can be sure of that. I think the Russian President is also absolutely convinced of this," Aleksandr Lukashenko said. "I once voiced this idea. I think you'll support it or rather I'm sure you'll support it. We are smart enough not to incorporate each other, either Russia into Belarus or Belarus into Russia, as the West says we will do. We are two smart independent states that can build such an architecture of our relations that others will envy. We are moving towards this," the Belarusian leader stressed.
It has already been 30 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two states, most of which Aleksandr Lukashenko has been President of Belarus. "All this time they have been talking about some looming takeover or incorporation... 30 years have passed. No incorporation, or absorption. Nothing has been taken away. Frankly, we get from Russia everything that a sovereign independent state needs. Indeed, there were all kinds of situations. We argued as close people do," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
He added that he often discussed this topic with Vladimir Putin. The Belarusian head of state noted that disputes in relations are a positive thing: “I always say: we should be happy about it. No Western country (take the latest summits), no one argues with anyone there. Washington orders, everybody says ‘yes’.”
“Everyone knows that truth emerges from clash of arguments and ideas,” Sergey Lavrov said.
“Yes, we argue sometimes, because we are close people. Indeed, truth emerges from argument and this is how it will always be,” the head of state agreed.
In his words, Belarus and Russia enjoy a special relationship at present. “We live in a challenging time, Sergey Viktorovich. When they fail to heed to diplomats they will have to listen to other people. We are for diplomatic means in the first place. But what can we do at a time of a hybrid? First they started with mass media. Then they silenced diplomats. None of international organizations, including the main one, are effective any longer. What can we do? We have to defend ourselves, to fight back,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The Russian foreign minister recalled the seizure of Russian assets by the West. “They have seized our money,” he noted.
“They have seized the money, imposed sanctions. This is nothing but a hybrid war,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “They have already declared an economic war. What does transit closure mean? And everyone is shouting about some Suwalki corridor. Listen, you and I don’t talk about it but they shout about it. What are they hinting at?”
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Belarus and Russia have sufficient forces and assets in order to deliver cargoes to Kaliningrad. “Without any wars and strain. Putin and I very seriously discussed these matters,” he said.
The President remarked upon Lithuania’s policy, which gets ahead of itself in the matter of sanctions: “They shift the blame onto the European Union all the time. They claim they didn’t do it, the European Union made this decision. But decisions are made by a consensus over there. If you had seen that it might harm Lithuania, you should have voted against it and the decision would not have been passed. Or it could have been passed with some provisos. But you see that they are getting ahead of themselves. And always shout: ‘Run them over, chase them!’ And so on. To the detriment of their own state. It is not surprising for me because I see it all the time. And I see who pushes for such things over there.”
“You know what surprises me... It’s quite a normal demand – to drop nationalism that degenerates into fascism. I am telling you this as a historian. We don’t need it, and Europe doesn’t need it either. They are cultivating it in Ukraine, they support it. Fine. And what if tomorrow it spills over into Europe? They don’t need it. Europe does not need it, especially Germany. They remember the lessons of history. They must understand that it will gain ground and take root throughout Europe,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.
Sergey Lavrov noted that the Alternative for Germany political party created a non-governmental organization to combat Russophobia. “In other words, it is already beginning to surface in the public field,” he noted.
“Mr Lavrov, you understand it better than anyone else: they didn’t leave any other option for us,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “There was a suggestion [for the collective West] to discuss security in the run-up to the special operation [in Ukraine] and a proposal to sign agreements, to get together at the negotiating table and so on, without operations and wars, without shooting. They rejected it. It is their choice,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The Russian foreign minister agreed with the Belarusian leader. He added that at the recent NATO summit, the alliance declared Russia a “direct threat” and said China posed “serious challenges”. “They reaffirmed their open door policy and the decision passed at the 2008 Bucharest Summit to welcome Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership,” Sergey Lavrov noted.
“It will make it [NATO] very strong,” the President remarked ironically. “Well, let it be,” he said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Belarus and Russia have yet to resort to a mirrored response to Western aviation’s flights, which practice using nuclear weapons.
“It was not staged. Including nuclear weapons and the rest. We’ve made another half-step. They are flying and training after all. Why are they training? Why are they carrying nuclear drill rounds? In order to load a nuclear bomb into an aircraft and drop it where necessary tomorrow. This is why we have yet to resort to a mirrored response. Russia has nuclear ammunition depots, we don’t. And as Putin said correctly, their nuclear warheads are located in six sites, in six countries,” he stressed.
Sergey Lavrov remarked: “And for so many years they have been flying and letting pilots of non-nuclear countries to fly the aircraft designed for nuclear weapons.”
According to the Russian minister of foreign affairs, it is a violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
“But we have not done it yet. But we have to be ready,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
He recalled events of 1941 when the Great Patriotic War began: “We have to keep our powder dry everywhere. And as for shouts that Putin has captured Belarus, that Putin does whatever he wants… We have a coordinated wise policy of two sovereign countries, for which [Belarusian Minister of Foreign Affairs Vladimir] Makei and Lavrov are primarily responsible.”
“Under the leadership of the commanders-in-chief,” Sergey Lavrov added.
Aleksandr Lukashenko responded by saying: “But you advise us. Yet it does not waive our responsibility. We absolutely rationally understand what is going on around us. And it is better to show what may happen than for the real thing to happen. We don’t need this war.”