With all due respect to our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, menacing statements about our dire response are just yet another idle threat. And such threats make us funny.
I want to highlight three very serious dangers caused by the change in Lukashenka’s behaviour, to which we must respond. Otherwise, the situation may become critical.
Importantly, despite statements about Crimea, Belarus is not ready and does not want trade or any other wars with Ukraine. However, the trap into which Lukashenka has driven himself makes him not always an independent player.
Special attention should be paid to the recent integration processes between Russia and Belarus. Putin is in no hurry to annex Belarus, and the latest signed documents show this very clearly. Putin now needs Belarus as a conditionally independent scarecrow for the West.
So, we have three global problems that need to be addressed immediately.
Migrants who can be let through the Ukrainian border
The situation is really critical, and there is no doubt that in the near future the EU may suggest that Ukraine should undertake acceptance of the Belarusian Kurds. At the same time, it is possible that the Belarusians themselves will send crowds of Kurds to our territory.
What should Ukraine do now? First, we need to understand: are we ready to set up filtration camps and receive 100,000-200,000 refugees? And, most importantly, if we agree (theoretically), then what will we ask for that? In due time, Erdoğan took EUR 6 billion for a similar story.
Second, if such a decision is made, we should draft a communication campaign and create an appropriate infrastructure. So far, we do not have anything: no understanding, no knowledge, much less a negotiating plan. And time works against us.
And finally, there is another aspect: we are not fully prepared for border breakthroughs. Border guards alone will not cope. Therefore, this is a unique chance to test the territorial defence forces. It is in this direction that appropriate training should be carried out as soon as possible. In addition, it is necessary to involve not only the territorial defence forces of the Volyn and Kyiv regions but also invite volunteers from all over the country.
Dependence on Belarusian diesel
We can endlessly shake our fist at Belarusians, but we have nothing to replace Belarusian diesel with (60% of diesel in Ukraine is imported). The Ukrainian Institute for the Future already released a report on remedies for this situation. First of all, it is necessary to make an inventory of critical fuel reserves (in an ideal scenario, we should have a month’s supply). But this is only a part of the solution. More globally, we need to launch one of the state refineries. In our opinion, it is worth selling the state share in the Drohobych oil refinery for UAH 1 under the investment obligations of one of the large companies that will supply the plant with raw materials. And this is much more important than talking about how great it is that the Bolshevik plant was sold for UAH 1 billion. Of course, this will not solve the problem this year, but if we do not start this process now, we will, at best, lose another year.
Need for Belarusian electricity imports
Lukashenka’s statement about Crimea puts us in an awkward position: we simply do not have the right now to ask for electricity imports. I am sure that the Russians forced Lukashenka to make a corresponding statement for these reasons.
The issue of energy stability becomes key in the coming months. And here we face not so much external but rather internal threat.
Vadym Denysenko, UIF Executive Director