The conflict between Ukraine and Belarus is escalating. Ukraine has imposed sanctions on Belarus, and Belarus is now closing the border in response.
Belarus has been hit by significant EU sanctions since the Belarussian presidential election last year and the continuing unrest, plane hijacking, and human rights violations. Ukraine has followed the EU and imposed sanctions and, among other things, stopped flights to Belarus. Belarus has responded with an extra tax on Ukrainian products and announced problems with gasoline delivery, but the country is now taking things a step further.
“A huge amount of weapons comes from Ukraine to Belarus. Therefore, I instructed the border troops to completely close the border with Ukraine,” Belarus leader Aleksandr Lukashenko said during the country’s Independence Day event, according to Kyiv Post.
The border is supposed to have been closed from July 2nd. Lukashenko claimed that organizations supported by foreign countries are planning a coup in Belarus and that it, therefore, is necessary to close the borders to Ukraine.
Broken human rights
Lukashenko has been in power in Belarus since 1994. His approval was high initially but has been declining over the years and reached a low point last year. Large demonstrations with more than a hundred thousand people in the capital of Minsk demanded his resignation after the presidential election in August, where Lukashenko claimed victory in an election many organizations have declared was fixed or tampered with.
Lukashenko has cracked down hard on protestors, and there have been many reports about the use of torture against prisoners.
Before the election, Lukashenko claimed that Russia was interfering in the election. Later, he changed his mind and focussed on blaming the West for the many demonstrations. That Lukashenko now blames Ukraine for letting “a huge amount of weapons” come to Belarus is the latest of many accusations made by the Belarussian leader.
Ukraine rejects the accusations.
“Ukraine categorically rejects the accusations of Alexander Lukashenko about the alleged supply of weapons. We have never interfered in the internal affairs of Belarus. We are not going to do it in the future,” said Oleh Nikolenko, who is a spokesperson for Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry, according to Kyiv Post, and added that Ukraine hasn’t seen the border closing yet, but that it could change soon.