THE CRAWLING RUSSIAN ANNEXATION OF THE UKRAINIAN TERRITORIES: TO BE CONTINUED?

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Islamabad/Pakistan/Editor’s Monitoring Desk – 05 April 2022

As the Russia’s war against Ukraine entered its third month without any substantial achievements for aggressor, the issue of the next steps of Kremlin`s dictator for advancing its military adventure fell in the spotlight of journalists and experts worldwide.

The constantly changing strategy and ultimate goal of Russia in the so-called “special operation” raises many questions and is not fully understood. However, Western observers became more and more confident that Russia is seeking to annex the occupied part of Ukraine due to shifting invasion targets.

According the latest US intelligence assessments, approximately in “mid-May” Russia will try to annex Donetsk and Luhansk regions by conducting so called “referendums” and then implement the similar scenario in the Kherson region.
From the perspective of Russian propaganda, such turn of events, could be sold to public as a reestablishment of soviet empire under disguise of “Union State”.

To carry out his designs, Putin is counting on its faithful “vassal” – Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenka. The far-reaching goal of Putin is to involve directly his Belarusian accomplice in cruel aggression against Ukraine.

Belarus plays an important role in the so-called “Union State”, a miserable imitation of the USSR, designed to satisfy Putin`s imperial ambitions as well as to somehow legalize the relationship between the two dictators.

Attempts to “activate” the “Union State” are observed on regular basis. Just April 28, Alexander Lukashenka, at a meeting with the governor of Russia’s Voronezh region, Alexander Gusev, recalled that Russia and Belarus were building a single “Union State”, which other republics want to join.

It`s not hard to guess what Belorussian dictator meant and which “republics” were burnt by desire to join the “Union State”: non-recognized puppet republics established by Russia on occupied territories of states that used to be members of the former Soviet Union. These are occupied parts of Donetsk and Lugansk regions of Ukraine (so called Donetsk and Luhansk People`s Republics), Transnistria (occupied part of Moldova), South Ossetia, Abkhazia (occupied parts of Georgia).

Considering that the interlocutor of Belarus was the governor of the region located next to the border with Ukraine, it is likely that, in fact, these two discussed the “joining” to the “Union State” the occupied territories in the south and east of Ukraine.

Putin and Lukashenka on several occasions discussed the situation in the context of Russia’s special operation. The last telephone call took place 3 May 2022. The day after Belarus began a defiant massive redeployment of heavy weapons and military equipment to the borders of Lithuania and Ukraine.

Alexander Lukashenka is a very convenient figure for Putin. It was Lukashenka who sanctioned the transformation of Belarus into a Russian foothold for the invasion of Ukraine: Russian missiles are launched from the territory of Belarus, Russian military use Belorussian airfields for airstrikes against Ukrainian cities and Belorussian rail network for transportation of personnel, cargo, ammunition, and fuel. The wounded Russian soldiers are evacuated to Belarus hospitals for treatment. The direct engagement of Belarus armed forces in Russian aggression against Ukraine still remains probable.

As a co-aggressor, Lukashenka’s regime bears full responsibility with Kremlin for the war against Ukraine as only 3% of Belarus citizens support joining this war.

Despite the lack of unanimous support of the population of Belarus for the war against Ukraine, Alexander Lukashenka still demonstrates his commitment to his patron Putin. The Belarusian dictator is not afraid of even the prospect of being in the dock together with the Russian president.

With increased sanction pressure from the West, Belarus is turning into a convenient hub for circumventing sanctions. At least both presidents, both Russian and Belarusian, stated that the West had unleashed an all-out sanctions war against Russia and Belarus.

By continuing war against Ukraine and committing war crimes, Russia and Belarus become increasingly isolated.

In the aftermath of Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Council of the Baltic Sea States suspended Russia from further participation and Belarus from observer status

; the OECD decided to suspend the participation of Russia and Belarus;

; both Russia and Belarus were banned from 90-95% world sport organizations

; the European Conference of Postal and Telecommunication Administrations indefinitely suspended Russia and Belarus from membership

; the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development officially announced the closure of its offices in Moscow and Minsk and formally suspended access by Russia and Belarus to its resources

; the G7 Foreign Ministers, in a joint statement, condemned in the strongest terms the atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces in Bucha and a number of other Ukrainian towns, and stressed the necessity of further increasing the economic pressure inflicted on Putin and the Lukashenka regime in Belarus

; all Russian and Belarussian lorries were forced have left the EU.

The further actions by the international community against Russia’s and Belorussia should be done immediately:

expanding sanctions against Russia to Lukashenka’s regime;

frozen assets and personal sanctions on Russian and Belarusian oligarchs and entities;

recalling EU citizenship for the sanctioned owners of the so-called “golden passports” provided to major Russian and Belarusian investors;

imposing a visa-regime for holders of Russian and Belorussian diplomatic passports;

blocking new visas and residency permits and revoking existing ones for Russian and Belorussian officials and their families;

As long as Belarus is headed by the Lukashenka, it will be possible to involve Belarus in a fratricidal war against Ukraine as well as to the crawling Russian annexation of the Ukrainian territories at the price of inevitable degradation of Belarus under tough Western sanctions.

The one thing is certain: final Lukashenka`s decisions will depend on the course of Putin’s war on Ukraine.

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