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Lukashenko is getting ready for war

Russian and Belarusian military equipment at joint training exercise
Russian and Belarusian military equipment at joint training exercise. Source:

Pavel Latushka in an interview with APA – Austria Presse Agentur


Concerning the militarization of Alexander Lukashenko's regime, exiled Belarusian politician Pavel Latushka expresses fear that in a few years, the Belarusian army, in collaboration with the Russian army, will initiate military operations against the West. Latushka shared these concerns with APA during an event on Belarus in the Austrian parliament, where he was invited by the Green foreign policy representative Eva Ernst-Dziedzic.

“My prediction is this: If there is a lack of strategy of support for Belarusian democratic forces and civil society, within two or three years, the majority of the Belarusian army will be prepared to wage war alongside the armed forces of the Russian Federation, including against the West,” Pavel. Latushka explained in an interview with APA. Latushka, a former minister of culture and ally of the opposition leader in the Belarusian government in exile, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, suggested that in such a scenario, Belarus would not only provide its territory for aggression, as it is currently doing, but also actively participate in the attack.

The politician, who has been sentenced in absentia to 18 years in prison, mentioned amendments to the law regarding military operations in this context. The death penalty has been introduced for soldiers guilty of treason, and a militia has been created. Additionally, company managers have undergone training related to resource, fuel, and food management during times of war.

A. Lukashenko in the Brest region
A. Lukashenko in the Brest region. Photo:

“He (Lukashenko — editor's note) has also deployed tactical nuclear weapons on Belarusian territory to use them as a security guarantee if he were to send armed forces into battle against another state,” Latushka explained, citing the hypothetical examples of operations near the Lithuanian-Polish Suwalki corridor or against Ukraine. While Russian officials have always maintained that Russian nuclear weapons are located in Belarus, Lukashenko has repeatedly emphasized that the decision to use these weapons rests solely with himself. Latushka suggests that this right of Minsk has been enshrined in a secret additional protocol to the Russian-Belarusian agreement on the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus.

As a countermeasure to potential military escalation, the exiled politician proposes robust actions against the regime and support for pro-European Belarusians. Thousands of them have already been imprisoned for protesting against the fraud in the 2020 presidential election, and hundreds of thousands have fled their homeland. However, the West's failure to take sufficient measures against Lukashenko is demoralizing these individuals. “No one has been held accountable (by international criminal justice  — editor's note), and no sanctions have been imposed that are comparable to those against Russia,” he criticizes.

The West's ineffective approach to the regime raises doubts among Belarusians about why they should fight for democracy. Meanwhile, Russia actively supports pro-Russian and anti-Western minorities and employs a “huge propaganda machine,” Latushka explained. Just on Monday, Lukashenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the creation of a joint media holding.

Latushka justifies the need for tougher measures, particularly because softer sanctions allow the import of civilian and military goods into Belarus, which are then transferred to Russia or used in the country's own military industry. “One of the main concerns is the production of drones, in which Lukashenko has made significant investments,” he stated.

Pavel Latushka
Pavel Latushka. Photo: NAM-media

At the same time, the exiled politician expresses regret that in recent years, the West has repeatedly underestimated Lukashenko. In 2020 or 2021, international companies had to decide whether they wanted to remain in Belarus. “We also warned Austrian companies that the risks would increase, and this could lead to investment losses,” Latushka emphasized. Now, everyone is trapped, he added, citing Lukashenko's decree from the autumn of 2023, which requires companies from “unfriendly” countries to pay the state 25 percent of the market value when selling shares, with the sale requiring government approval.

The politician, who currently resides in exile in Warsaw, has high hopes for the new Polish government. Poland has always been an ally of democratic forces in Belarus, and there is an inter-party consensus on this matter. “However, since (Prime Minister Donald) Tusk and (Foreign Minister Radoslaw) Sikorski are pro-European politicians, they will have more influence on the development of the European Union’s strategy towards Belarus,” Latushka stated.


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