Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya's speech at the Kyiv Security Forum, 2023

“Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me thank our Ukrainian friends for inviting me, as the representative of democratic Belarus, to discuss the future of our region’s security. We must ensure that the voice of Belarusians in preserving our national interests is heard – to more effectively fight dictators and to prepare for the post-war settlement. 

Since last December, when I first spoke here, the political situation in Belarus hasn’t improved, to say the least. The regime continues repressions and remains a factor of instability and a threat to the whole region. Just to mention the orchestrated migration crisis that is still challenging the EU. 

Moscow’s open interference is the cornerstone of Lukashenka’s rule. Violence, repressions, hostile and reckless actions of the regime are possible with Moscow’s support. Lukashenka is simply being used as Russia’s firebrand to destabilize Europe. Without it, the regime would not survive a day.

Since 2020, when Lukashenka lost elections, the Kremlin has been capitalizing on his illegitimacy to undermine Belarus’s sovereignty. The so-called “integration process” – or, to put it bluntly, selling the country for personal power – has sped up.

To bring Belarus under complete control, the Kremlin imposed on Lukashenka so-called “28 integration maps”. The dictators adopted a new joint military doctrine and military grouping now allows broad Russian military presence in Belarus. We see a complete surrender of the information space to Russia and a deliberate policy to wipe out Belarusian national identity.

Lukashenka’s regime remains a key Russian ally in the criminal war against Ukraine. It provides Russia with weapons, ammunition and industrial capabilities. Dictator’s aggressive rhetoric and concentration of troops on the Ukraine border create tensions. While an invasion from Belarusian territory is less likely now, all this distracts Ukrainian forces from their main mission to defeat Russian invaders. 

The situation is further aggravated by Putin’s decision to deploy Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus. Since 1968, when the Non-Proliferation Treaty was signed, this would be the first deployment of such weapons by a nuclear state outside its territory. Yesterday, Putin’s and Lukashenka’s ministers signed papers on deployment, and it’s a matter of weeks before nuclear weapons are transferred to Belarus.

The vast majority of Belarusians are for independence, and against the war and nuclear weapons in Belarus. But the level of Russia-sponsored repressions doesn’t let people protest openly. The protest movement has gone underground. 

There’s a broad consensus that Belarus will have its best chance to end Russian interference when Ukraine defeats Russia. But in no way it means that we can slow down. On the contrary, we must double our efforts to help Ukraine. 

Together with our partners, we are building pressure on the regime through various forms. We should increase pressure on the regime through sanctions, and complete political isolation. I know that some countries are lobbying for softening sanctions on Belarus fertilizers – a major source of income for repressions and the war machine. It must not happen. 

In the international arena, one of the recent important developments became the Moscow mechanism report on Belarus. Here, I’d like to thank Ambassador Carpenter for his leadership in the OSCE. His focus, energy, and diplomatic skills made this result possible.

We increase our work in the UN. With the war and planned deployment of nuclear weapons in Belarus, the importance of Belarus has grown. We are expanding relations with the Global South to highlight Lukashenka’s damage to the international order, stressing the danger of Russian colonialism.

We insist that Lukashenka must be prosecuted for his crimes against humanity, crime of aggression and complicity in war crimes. Recently, my deputy Pavel Latushka and National Anti-crisis Management published a report on the abduction and deportation of Ukrainian kids to Belarus, not only to Russia. The International Criminal Court and International Court of Justice must consider a probe against Lukashenka as it was done with Putin.

In ten days, the UN General Assembly will elect non-permanent members of the Security Council. Our goal is not just to prevent Lukashenka from being elected. This vote must become a global impeachment to Lukashenka, a rejection of his deplorable practices. We are working on it. Only democratic Belarus will restore its international reputation and will once be elected to the UN Security Council. 

We keep building our international presence. We have set up missions in Kyiv, Brussels, Prague and Tallinn. The Council of Europe set up a Contact Group on relations with Belarus. A similar Consultative Group is being set up with the EU. We are working on the design of the Strategic Dialogue with the United States. This will make our bilateral work more systematic, consistent, and result oriented. I hope this example of US leadership will be followed by other friends of Belarus.

Our United Transitional Cabinet has developed a plan to revise relations with Russia to give way to the new geopolitical choice. Belarus will denounce Lukashenka’s treaties with Russia and leave CSTO. There’s no way that we will stay in a military alliance with an aggressor.

I fully support the peace plan proposed by President Zelensky. I join the call of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly to welcome Ukraine into the Alliance, and I hope that it happens soon.

Regional security also requires that the Russian military leave Belarus for good, and the Kremlin's interference in our internal affairs stops. This will help win the peace and stabilize the region. 

We Belarusians must dismantle the tyranny and make Russian troops leave. I am convinced that we will succeed when we join our efforts with Ukraine. Only the new democratic Belarus will provide firm security guarantees for Ukraine and implement broad partnership with our neighbors.

Today, the future of our region, of European security and of the international order is decided in Ukraine. Russia is waging this war because of its hate and fear of freedom. Ukrainians are fighting because they love – their country, their people, and their right to be themselves. 

This is why truly Belarusian hearts beat for Ukraine. By all means, we all must continue to support Ukrainians in their just war until it defeats Russia.

Слава Україні!
Жыве Беларусь!”

26 May 2023 в 15:30