As the courageous mass protests and the ongoing brutal oppression in Belarus fade from public attention in the U.S., we see growing criticism of the sanctions imposed on the Lukashenka regime by the U.S. and its democratic allies. While a critical reassessment of the U.S. policy towards Belarus is always worthwhile, and Belarus Freedom Forum has published our vision of the U.S. policy on Belarus, we believe that much of the recent criticism of Belarus sanctions is misleading and the idea of relaxing sanctions on the Lukashenka regime is harmful both to the prospect of democracy in Belarus and to global security.
A Russia-controlled dictatorship in Belarus is a clear and present danger to the security of the United States and its transatlantic allies and partners. In 2020, Belarusians made a clear choice for democracy and independence. Instead, the Belarusian people had the last vestiges of political rights and civil liberties taken away, the Lukashenka regime facilitated Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and signed the nuclear weapons deployment deal in 2023, dragging Belarus toward gradual annexation by Russia. The Russian assault on Kyiv via Belarus in February 2022 demonstrated the strategic importance of Belarus for European security. The U.S. government should take concrete steps to safeguard independence of Belarus, to help Belarusians in forced exile build the expertise and recognition needed for a peaceful transition of power to a democratically elected government, and to ensure accountability for human rights violations and war crimes committed by Lukashenka and Putin regimes.
Answers to common questions about our petition to declare Russian occupation of Belarus and derecognize Lukashenka, in Belarusian and English.
“We will massacre all the scum that you, the West, have been financing. You are upset we destroyed all your structures, all your NGO’s and all those you have been paying for.” These were the words of the ruler of Belarus Lukashenka about the hundreds of people’s initiatives and nongovernmental organizations crushed by the state in 2021. The fact is, the majority of targeted organizations were nothing but human and animal rights activists, journalistic associations, community focused groups and organizations that help people with disabilities. This interview with BBC’s own Steve Rosenberg, however, revealed more than just Lukashenka’s fear of initiatives which are common in Western democracies. It revealed the interconnection between the migrant crisis, the repressions against civil society in Belarus, and the Belarusian dictator’s unwavering thirst for power.