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"We are the only country that supports the Russians in this struggle. Those who reproach us, did you not know that we have the closest alliance with the Russian Federation? With a state with which we are building a single, powerful, independent state – a Union state. And they didn't know that we had created a single group of armed forces in the union of Belarus and Russia for a long time? In fact, a unified army."
This statement by the self-proclaimed president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenka, has become the most open admission so far that Minsk is participating in Russian aggression against Ukraine. He stated this on July 3, a week after the large-scale missile launch over Ukraine from the territory of Belarus.
And the day before, Lukashenka had announced an order to "target" decision-making centers in the capitals of Minsk's opponents, hinting that one of these enemies was Kyiv.
Lukashenka's transition to aggressive rhetoric was expected.
All his attempts to start a dialogue with the West to lift sanctions failed as expected. His dependence on Russia is only growing, and the missile attack on Kyiv and other cities of Ukraine on June 26 (unfortunately, clearly not the last) further cemented for Belarus the role of an accomplice in war crimes.
Kyiv is still trying to separate the power of Russia and its branch in Belarus.
We are fighting a fierce battle with the Russian army, but at the same time, we maintain diplomatic relations with Belarus, which itself declares the unity of its army with the Russian one.
Why does Kyiv not break relations with Minsk?
The policy of the Lukashenka regime's special treatment, pursued by Kyiv, once really made sense. Minsk then maneuvered in the international arena and tried not to fall into the arms of Moscow, and Ukraine's caution left room for such a maneuver.
First, Belarus had not previously recognized "Russian Crimea," and Lukashenka's personal revenge may lead to such a consequence.
Secondly, Lukashenka had not yet decided whether he would provide Moscow with his military bases for aggression against Ukraine.
Thirdly (although they tried not to mention it out loud in Kyiv), Ukraine needed economic cooperation and trade with Belarus. This made us blind to how the bloody dictator ruled the neighboring country.
These arguments do not exist nowadays.
Trade does not practically exist anymore. Lukashenka supported the annexation of Crimea last year when he publicly "recognized" the peninsula as Russian. The issue of military cooperation between Minsk and Moscow has finally been resolved.
Of course, Belarusian armed forces are still not participating in the war in Ukraine. But for other reasons.
Lukashenka's army is not ready for hostilities on foreign territory. Significant losses of the Belarusian military or a mass transfer to the Ukrainian side may even cause the resumption of mass protests.
Lukashenka's regime is aware of these problems and is trying to eliminate them. The Belarusian army is constantly conducting military exercises, and Belarusian propaganda continually tries to dehumanize Ukrainians and increase hatred towards them in society. Fortunately for us, this preparation has not yet led to the desired results for Lukashenka and Putin.
We should not believe this is happening because of maintaining diplomatic relations with Minsk.
Official Kyiv has already made this mistake before, under Poroshenko.
Since 2014, Kyiv has pretended it wasn't at war with Russia.
We did not cut diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation after Ilovaisk, after Debaltseve, or after the events near the Kerch Strait in 2018. It did not prevent us from any further escalation.
The only thing we "achieved" was the consolidation of the thesis at the international level that the war with Russia was something not real. Otherwise, it would not be possible to talk about full-fledged diplomatic relations.
We are now repeating ourselves with Belarus.
Last week, Ukraine cut diplomatic ties with Syria after Damascus recognized the so-called "independence" of the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts. But why isn't it applicable to Belarus, which has been much more severe towards Ukraine?
Of course, breaking off diplomatic relations should not be a purpose. Ukraine has long needed a new Belarusian policy.
It is pretty normal to make a political statement to cut ties with the illegitimate dictator and not with Belarusian society.
Will Kyiv then start to communicate with Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya at least sometimes? She has become a symbol of the Belarusian opposition worldцшву, and Kyiv conspicuously ignores her.
Kyiv should finally decide what to do with Belarusians in Ukraine - under what conditions their stay is acceptable.
Finding answers to these questions is more complicated than simply turning a blind eye to Belarusian aggression against our country.
But these weird affairs must finally end as soon as possible.
Procrastination does not give Kyiv any advantages and only increases the challenges.
European Pravda Editorial Office