On January 18, 2022, under the pretense of 10-day joined military exercises, the Russian armed forces entered Belarus. Shortly after, the two countries’ regimes announced that the Russian military stay will be extended indefinitely. Since then, up to 30,000 Russian military personnel, together with extensive military equipment, have been stationed in Belarus. The Russian armed forces entered Belarus with a clear intention of using its territory as a launchpad for ground and air strikes on Ukraine, in violation of Belarus’ Constitution. As such, their presence in Belarus is unlawful and an infringement upon the Republic’s sovereignty.
In addition to the Constitution explicitly declaring Belarus’ neutrality (Article 18), the Belarusian people have consistently expressed no desire for the country’s participation in this new instance of Russian aggression against Ukraine.
Russia has a history of creating puppet governments on the territories occupied by its military. Besides several contemporary examples in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, a series of such Moscow’s puppet governments was established in Belarus under the Red Army’s occupation, in 1918, 1922, and 1939, resulting in the transfer of political power to Moscow, loss of vast territories and widespread repression against the local population until Belarus fully, albeit temporarily, recovered its independence in 1991.
Today, the presence of a foreign military of a far larger capacity and with nuclear capabilities puts Belarus in a precarious position as a de-facto occupied country, as it effectively prevents any policy that does not align with the interests of Putin’s regime. Not only does it render the Lukashenka regime Moscow’s puppet, but also prevents the people of Belarus from exercising its free will, as any political speech or expression is under the threat of retaliation from both the Lukashenka regime and the occupying forces.
Therefore, The Belarus Freedom Forum calls for the immediate and complete withdrawal of the Russian Federation’s armed forces from the territory of Belarus.