Meet Putin’s biggest accomplice in his war on Ukraine

By | March 5, 2022

Markos Kounalakis writes:

Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is criminal on multiple counts, but some of them should be leveled at one of his main accomplices: Belarus’s dictator, Alexander Lukashenko.

Russia’s military is executing an unprovoked and unprecedented attack on a peaceful neighbor on many fronts, from the air and sea. The land war, however, would not be as effective or lethal were it not for Lukashenko providing a front along Belarus’s southern border, not far from Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv.

Indeed, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky put it bluntly—Belarus is “not neutral,” he said—when weighing potential negotiations in the country’s capital, Minsk. “Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest, Istanbul, Baku—we proposed all that to the Russian side,” he said. “Any other city would work for us, too, in a country from whose territory rockets are not being fired.” Belarus is, in fact, far from neutral. It is complicit with the Russian attacks, and Zelensky has reckoned that any negotiations on its land would be on enemy territory.

It didn’t have to be this way. Belarus was early roadkill on the path to Putin’s widening Ukraine war. While the world’s shocked attention is now understandably fixed on a besieged Ukraine, the people of Belarus long ago lost any real shot at their own independence. Lukashenko stole a recent presidential election, used lethal violence to put down popular dissent, surrendered the nation’s sovereignty to Putin, and has since welcomed Russian troops to overrun and occupy the nation. The country has since become the most important staging area for an ongoing war against Russia’s neighbors and NATO strongholds—all of it coordinated and conducted by Moscow. It looks and feels like a throwback to the days of the USSR. [Continue reading…]

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