Ukraine Calls for Observers at Flashpoint Border With Belarus

Ukraine Calls for Observers at Flashpoint Border With Belarus

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko approved a joint military grouping with Russia earlier this week.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for “international observers” to be placed on the Ukraine-Belarus border amid escalating military tensions between Kyiv and Minsk.

“Russia is trying to directly draw Belarus into this war, playing a provocation that we are allegedly preparing an attack on this country. Indirectly it has already involved them. And now it wants to involve them directly,” Zelenskyy said on Tuesday in an address to the G7. “On the border of Ukraine and Belarus, we can place a mission of international observers to monitor the security situation. The format can be worked out by our diplomats. I ask you, on the level of the G7, to support this initiative,” he added.

Zelenskyy did not immediately elaborate on his proposal. It is unclear if the Ukrainian leader was calling for a foreign presence to merely document what Kyiv officials have described as Belarusian provocations or for armed peacekeepers to guard the Ukraine-Belarus border from potential attack. Zelenskyy did not specify which countries or organizations the “international observers” should be drawn from.

Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko accused Ukraine and NATO of plotting to strike Belarus and approved a joint Russia-Belarus military grouping on Belarusian soil earlier this week. "In the wake of escalations on the western borders of the Union State, we agreed on deploying a regional group of forces of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus. All these moves are consistent with our documents," he said during a meeting with security officials.

The G7, which convened an emergency meeting shortly following Russia’s spate of unprecedented attacks against critical Ukrainian infrastructure on Monday, reaffirmed in a joint statement it will continue to support Ukraine against the Russian invasion “for as long as it takes.”

Belarus, a close Russian military ally, has been hit with successive waves of Western sanctions over its role in providing passage and support to the invading Russian forces in the opening stages of the Ukraine conflict.

The G7 warned Belarus to stop aiding Russia. “We reiterate our call on the Belarusian authorities to stop enabling the Russian war of aggression by permitting Russian armed forces to use Belarusian territory and by providing support to the Russian military,” read its statement. “The announcement of a joint military group with Russia constitutes the most recent example of the Belarusian regime’s complicity with Russia. We renew our call on the Lukashenko regime to fully abide by its obligations under international law.” French foreign affairs minister Catherine Colonna told French media on Tuesday that Belarus could face further sanctions if it deepens its involvement in the Ukraine conflict, according to Reuters.

Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the National Interest.

Image: Reuters.