1 Mar 2019 18:35

Lukashenko urges Moscow to solve problem of Ukraine as soon as possible, offers mediation

MINSK. March 1 (Interfax) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has called on the Russian leadership to settle the crisis in Ukraine in a peaceful manner.

"God forbid if the Americans deploy short- and intermediate-range missiles there [in Ukraine] - that won't look funny at all. This has already become a domestic problem for Russia and Belarus. This conflict needs to be ended for many reasons. Why don't you want to use Belarus for that?" Lukashenko said at a meeting with members of the public and media in Minsk on Friday.

A lot of Russian high-ranking officials are of Ukrainian descent, Lukashenko said. "You have [Dmitry] Kozak, who is from Ukraine, you have [Valentina] Matviyenko, who is also from Ukraine. Her parents died there, and she can't go there. There are a lot of such officials who occupy offices in the Russian government," Lukashenko said.

"If two brothers fight, what is the third one supposed to do? Try to pull them apart. My policy is that I should help them break up peacefully. Use Belarus to that end so that peace should settle there," he said.

"Analyze the human factor rather than global interests of some states," he said.

"But what's most important is that we have presented a gift to the Americans with our own hands. And to those who oppose us, and primarily those who oppose Russia," Lukashenko said.

Concerning Minsk's non-recognition of Crimea as part of Russia, Lukashenko recounted his earlier dialogue with the Russian leadership about recognizing Abkhazia. "I was about to sign a decree on recognizing Abkhazia. At least I said this to the Russians. But what was going to happen the next day? Javier Solana, a former NATO secretary general, warned me when he came to visit me. 'If you recognize Abkhazia, we will cut you off from the banking system [SWIFT] and you will find yourself in isolation'," Lukashenko said in citing Solana as saying.

"It turns out today that I was right. I've been to Georgia, they treat us just fine," he said.

The conflict in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian armed forces and other military units on the one side and supporters of the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics (DPR and LPR) on the other started in April 2014, after the change of government in Ukraine. Kyiv has lost control of part of Ukrainian territory and a section of the Ukrainian-Russian border. The Minsk Agreements concluded in 2015 determined a line separating the conflicting parties.