In the middle of the war in Ukraine, Belarus carried out this Sunday a controversial referendum in which it was approved that the country could receive nuclear weapons from Russia. The result supported the desire of the historic leader of that country. Alexander Lukashenko, who has always acted in alliance with Vladimir Putin.
The news stands out in the middle of the context. Belarus shares 891 kilometers of border with Ukraine. In addition, the capital, Minsk, has been chosen by Moscow to carry out negotiations for the conflict, despite the resistance of the Ukrainian government. Volodymyr Zelensky has denounced that Lukashenko has collaborated with the Kremlin and even asserted that several missiles against his country have been launched from that country.
The referendum authorizes Belarus to receive nuclear weapons for the first time since it was formed as a state in 1990after the disintegration of the Soviet Union. But it is part of a larger package. The result allows the country to adopt a new constitution and guarantees remain in power to Lukashenko until 1935.
In recent journalistic statements, the Belarusian leader defended the decision to abandon the country’s non-nuclear status. “If the West moves nuclear weapons from Poland to Lithuania, close to our borders, then I will go with Vladimir Putin to return with nuclear weapons that he will supply me with no conditions”.
Between 1994 and 1996, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan, which were part of the Soviet Union, agreed to maintain non-nuclear status in exchange for security guarantees.
In the last few hours, B.Belarus was chosen by the Kremlin as the venue for negotiations with the Ukrainian government that could mean a ceasefire. Volodímir Zelensky’s management initially refused due to the “non-neutral” character that Lukashenko has had in the conflict.
In fact, the The Ukrainian Armed Forces recently shared the video of the moment when a Russian missile fired from Belarus hit the Zhytomyr airport.
At the beginning of this Sunday, Zelensky had rejected the possibility of sitting down to discuss in Minsk and listed different countries in the region. “Any other city, in a country that doesn’t launch missiles at us, is fine for us.”
However, he later revised his stance. The Ukrainian president had a conversation with Lukashenko in which he guaranteed “let all planes, helicopters and missiles stationed on Belarusian territory remain on the ground during the trip, the talks and the return of the Ukrainian delegation”
“I say things clearly, as always: I don’t think it will work, but we have to try,” Lukashenko said. admitted that he did not want the Ukrainians to think in the future that he “had not tried to stop the war, when there was even a small chance of doing so”.
Historical ally of Putin
Lukashenko has been a historical ally of Vladimir Putin. He has been in power in Belarus since 1994. In 2020 he was re-elected in a highly contested election, in which opposition leaders were previously imprisoned. In fact, the opposition Svetlana Tijanovskaya, who lives in Lithuania, after denouncing persecution, accused the president of “treason” for collaborating with the invasion of Ukraine.
This Sunday’s referendum guarantees changes for his permanence in power, such as the mandate extension of Parliament for four to five years, the introduction of the People’s Assembly of Belarus as a new body to operate in parallel with the Parliament, and the judicial immunity to former presidents for the actions they took while in office.
In relation to presidential mandates, the amendment stipulates that, once elected as president of Belarus, the incumbent will remain in office for five years and may be re-elected only oncewhile currently there is no limitation in this regard.
It happens, however, that the reform will not take into account the three decades that Lukashenko has been governingwhich gives the president the opportunity to continue governing for another two terms when the current one expires in 2025.
With information from Europe Press