4th Dec 2023


Punish Belarus too for aiding Putin's Ukraine war

  • Belarus dictator Alexander Lukashenko has done everything to aid Vladimir Putin, bar send his own troops into Ukraine. Why should his oligarchs and banking systems be let off the hook? (Photo:
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This year, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Russian president Vladimir Putin and Russian commissioner for children's rights Maria Lvova-Belova for their involvement in the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The ICC said that Putin is allegedly responsible for the war crime of unlawfully deporting and transferring Ukrainian children from Ukraine to Russia. The ICC stated that Putin "bears individual criminal responsibility" for these crimes. Similarly, the ICC announced that Lvova-Belova was also responsible for the forced deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children from Ukraine to Russia.

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As the international community further investigates these actions, and as it condemns Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine, the globe must also hold other individuals responsible.

For example, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko should be punished for his involvement in Russia's war.

Last month, the Red Cross in Belarus made a shocking announcement, stating that the NGO has been involved in the forced transfer and relocation of Ukrainian children from Ukraine to Belarus. The organisation publicly admitted that it was "actively involved in bringing Ukrainian children from Russian-occupied areas [in Ukraine] to Belarus."

The revelation angered many parliamentarians in Europe, and some of them even called for the ICC to issue an arrest warrant for the Belarusian leader. During a recent meeting in European Parliament, the body issued a statement expressing concern over Belarus's "subordination to Russia."

"Belarus is responsible for damage caused to and crimes committed in Ukraine," the statement read. Member states and EU entities must "take all necessary steps at [the] international level to enable the criminal prosecution of those Belarusian political and military leaders responsible for crimes against humanity and genocide [in Ukraine]."

With the ICC previously issuing arrest warrants for Putin and Lvova-Belova, the MEPs additionally called on the ICC "to consider a similar arrest warrant for Alexsandr Lukashenko."

The Belarusian leader has previously pleaded his innocence, but he has fooled no one. It is widely known how heavily he is involved in Russia's war.

When the war began, Lukashenko gave Putin permission to deploy Russian soldiers to Belarus. Thousands of Russian troops have been stationed in the country, initially using Belarus as a launchpad to invade northern Ukraine at the start of the war. The Belarusian leader also allowed Russia to transport Russian defence equipment and military hardware to Belarus, to be used in Ukraine. Belarus has also provided supplies to Russia for the war. Finally, Russia has launched missile and air strikes on Ukraine from Belarusian territory, an act that was approved by Lukashenko.

In other words, while Belarus has not sent its own troops to fight Russia's war in Ukraine, the east European country has been heavily involved in the war efforts. As a result, Belarus must be punished for its involvement in the war.

What can the globe do to punish Belarus?

First, the international community could impose strict sanctions on Belarus, similar to what it has done with Russia. For example, several Russian commercial flights and travel operations have been canceled in Western countries. Russian vessels have also been banned from entering the ports of numerous Western cities. If the globe imposed similar sanctions on Belarus, this would negatively impact Belarusian businesses and Belarusian tourism.

Second, Belarus should be removed from international organizations. For example, when the war began, Russia was banned from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Russia was also removed from the United Nations Human Rights Council. PACE took similar actions on Belarus, where the organisations suspended Belarus, but other international organisations should adopt similar practices. This would isolate Belarus from the international community.

Finally, the international community should target the Belarusian economy. For example, the globe froze and seized the assets of Russian oligarchs.

Several Russian banks were also cut off from SWIFT, the international messaging banking system. The globe should consider implementing similar economic punishments on Belarus. This would force the Belarusian leaders to rethink their involvement in Russia's war.

Overall, while the globe has continued to apply pressure on Russia for its war, the invasion continues without an apparent end. As a result, the world should pursue other methods of punishing Russia as current methods have not forced Russia to end its war.

To date, Belarus has been one of Russia's biggest allies and suppliers during the war, and applying pressure on Belarus may force the Belarusians to rethink their involvement in the invasion. This, in turn, could be an alternative option for forcing Russia to end its war.

Author bio

Mark Temnycky is an accredited freelance journalist covering Eurasian affairs and a nonresident fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center.


The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author's, not those of EUobserver.

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