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Belarus is under occupation, yet Lukashenko is a patriot?

Pavel Latushka: Deputy Head of the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, Head of the National Anti-Crisis Management, Ambassador

Those who tell us about the Russian occupation of Belarus often categorically oppose economic sanctions against the Lukashenko regime. But where is the logic in this? If an occupier has captured and controls the economic resources of a country, why allow them to profit from those resources? Why help the occupiers?

In the past, the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia and allowed a formally independent Slovak state to be formed on part of its territory. However, this state was effectively a satellite of Nazi Germany, and its economy served the needs of the Third Reich. Slovakia became an integral part of the German military-industrial complex. In addition to providing food to Germany, the Slovaks manufactured guns and torpedoes for German submarines, as well as fuel for the Nazis.

According to the bilateral agreement, Germany took responsibility for "defending" the Slovak state and its territorial integrity. The Germans were allowed to establish military installations in Slovakia and station their own troops there. In turn, Slovakia committed to aligning its foreign and military policies closely with the Third Reich.

As a result, Slovakia became a co-aggressor in virtually all the attacks launched by Nazi Germany, much like how Belarus under Lukashenko's leadership has been drawn into aggression against Ukraine and continues to assist the aggressor in every way possible.

This pro-Nazi regime in Slovakia ultimately led to the Slovak national uprising in August 1944. It never occurred to the Slovak people that the goods they produced for the German war economy were to the detriment of their own interests.

Yet today, many are calling for the Lukashenko regime in Belarus to be immediately released from sanctions, so that fuel, timber, and fertilizers can once again be exported, with the hard currency revenue used to prop up the repressive apparatus and fund joint military projects with Russia.

"Sanctions must be lifted immediately!" we hear. But those making this argument conveniently overlook the fact that thanks to Lukashenko, there is effectively no real border between Belarus and Russia, allowing the aggressor free passage of countless goods to and from the West, including materials vital for sustaining the invasion of Ukraine.

Some are particularly concerned about the fate of the Belaruskali enterprise, whose management actively participates in the so-called Union State projects. This includes the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children to Belarus for indoctrination in the "Russian world" ideology.

Yet others dismiss these concerns, claiming that Russian oligarchs simply want to get their hands on the company. Meanwhile, Russia, to the detriment of its own oligarchs without such privileges, provides Belaruskali with discounts of up to 40% on the transportation of its potash fertilizers across Russian territory.

We sometimes hear that "the democratic forces and their calls for sanctions destroyed the Belarusian potash giant." But in 2023, Belaruskali has nearly reached its pre-sanctions production and export levels for fertilizers, keeping its factories running, though without granting workers the right to form trade unions or strike. 

No one has introduced sanctions that would cripple Belarusian enterprises and leave the population destitute. Belarus has not been completely isolated, dooming its people to starvation.

The sanctions are designed to target those profiting unfairly from the nation's wealth, while allowing enterprises to continue operating and workers to maintain their jobs and wages.



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