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Is Lukashenka a stealth military aggressor?

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A terrible war has been raging in the heart of Europe for a month and a half now. A war that Putin’s Russia has unleashed against Ukraine. A war where the international community is seeing the genocide of the Ukrainian people. And the key launching pad for this war is Belarus — under the illegitimate dictator and military aggressor Lukashenka. An aggressor that for some reason the international community today prefers to ignore.

How was it possible that the usurper Lukashenko, who had become "famous" to the whole world after he lost the elections of 2020, forcibly retained power and staged the bloodiest and most mass repressions in the modern history of Belarus with the direct support of Putin, now handed the territory of the country under military control and occupation by Russia, provided it with a springboard and all the necessary infrastructure to start and wage war against Ukraine — and bears no serious responsibility for it?

How is it possible that the military aggressor — who himself has openly admitted that without his participation the war with Ukraine would have been impossible — today seems to have become virtually "invisible" to the anti-war sanctions that the US and EU impose package after package against Putin and Russia, but somehow bypasses the occupied Belarus, led by Putin’s puppet Lukashenka?

Instead of being held accountable for his numerous, now war crimes, Lukashenka has become the gauleiter of Putin-occupied Belarus and the owner of a country-sized offshore that arose from the failure to apply similar sanctions against Belarus as those applied against Russia.

By turning a blind eye to the "invisible" Lukashenka, the international community is letting him make money from the war, letting him help Putin circumvent sanctions through the Belarusian offshore — in effect paying the military aggressor, instead of cutting off his access to any external funding altogether.

But this is not the first time in the last two years that the civilized world has chosen not to notice the crimes of the aggressor Lukashenka and to provide him with the resources to carry them out.

June 2020. Belarus issues USD 1.25 billion worth of Eurobonds on the London Stock Exchange. The issue is guaranteed by Citi, Raiffeisen, Société Générale and Renaissance Capital.

All this was happening on the background of the election campaign — and even then the first facts of the beginning of repression in the country were recorded. At that time, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya’s husband Siarhei Tsikhanouski and Viktar Babaryka were already sent to prison. Already then the Lukashenka regime began throwing Belarusians behind bars, beating and torturing them for the first protests against repression. And it was quite obvious that sanctions would follow.

However, both the facts of the crackdown and the potential threats of sanctions were ignored and not reflected in the prospectus of the Belarus Eurobonds. Which in fact was, on the one hand, misleading of investors, and on the other, direct financing of gross human rights violations in Belarus. 1.25 billion dollars — Lukashenka received this money and is still using it to continue his crimes against humanity — not only against Belarusians, but also against Ukrainians.

August 2021. The IMF’s decision on the historic allocation of special drawing rights totalling $ 650 billion comes into force. Belarus' quota in this allocation was almost USD 1 billion.

Election fraud, mass repressions and tortures in Belarusian jails, hundreds of officially recognised political prisoners, the killing of peaceful protesters, the forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk, the start of the migration crisis on the Belarus-EU border, which eventually evolved into a real hybrid war by Lukashenka against the EU — all this was an objective and documented reality, against which Lukashenka received 1 billion dollars in SDR from the IMF.

Despite the broad public outcry, despite the efforts of the Belarusian democratic forces and the diaspora, as well as European parliamentarians, US senators and congressmen who supported these efforts to prevent the allocation of these funds, they were allocated and transferred to the SDR account of Belarus in the IMF.

And if 1 billion does not seem like a lot to others, for Lukashenka at the time, receiving these funds, and without any commitment, meant an increase in foreign exchange reserves by more than 14%. Not to mention the fact that the very fact of having access to IMF resources was one of the key conditions for issuing Eurobonds, the total amount of which was $ 3.25 billion at that time.

In practice, by giving Lukashenka that billion in SDRs, the IMF not only financed his many crimes — but also saved him from defaulting on his Eurobonds.

And even though the EU and the US have stated that Lukashenka will not be able to convert the SDR received into euros or dollars — he had and still has the possibility to sell them to, for example, Russia, China or any Arab country. Access for the Lukashenka regime to the SDR account of Belarus in the IMF has not yet been blocked.

So today we can also say that these funds not only helped Lukashenka to stay afloat financially, but also became a source for financing his joint military aggression against Ukraine with Putin. This was also stated by the leadership of the National Bank of Ukraine on 2 March, when it called on the IMF and G7 to block funds for Belarus and Russia from the SDR distribution and to boycott the delegations of both countries.

It all seems like a kind of fantasy. An inexplicable paradox. But there is an explanation — it is the wide-eyed civilized world that has allowed Lukashenka to become "invisible".

There is a solution. The world simply needs to open its eyes. And to see Lukashenka — the insane dictator, international criminal and military aggressor — so as to finally bring him to the full justice he has been avoiding all this time.

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