The former Ukrainian Ambassador to Belarus, Ihor Kyzym, has revealed that he has been appointed Ambassador-at-Large for Belarus. The diplomat reported this on his Facebook page on Feb. 2

Leaders of the Belarusian democratic movement in exile have welcomed this move while official Kyiv has made no effort to publicize it.   

Kyiv Post has previously pointed out the puzzling distancing by the Ukrainian leadership from the Belarusian democratic forces opposed to the despot in Minsk, Russia’s vassal, Aleksandr Lukashenko.

The latter rigged the presidential election in Belarus in August 2020 and has imprisoned close to 2,000 political opponents supporting democracy, the country’s sovereignty and European self-identification.

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Kyzym writes: “Recently, many messages have appeared in media networks regarding my new appointment related to relations with Belarusian democratic forces. I want to clarify this issue. By the decision of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, I was appointed Ambassador-at-Large for Belarus. It is obvious that at the moment any issue that concerns Belarus has a “special” character.”

The diplomat does not explain what he means by “special,” and therefore sheds no light on Kyiv’s official position towards Minsk almost two years into Russia’s war against Ukraine, during which Belarus has been used as a staging area for the Kremlin’s military aggression southward.

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Kyzym elaborates rather guardedly that his duties will include, “among other things, questions related to the democratic forces of Belarus, as that part of Belarusian society that has opposed the policies of the current leadership of Belarus, especially its support for the Russian aggression against Ukraine.”

The former ambassador was removed from his post in Minsk by the Zelensky administration in June 2022 as strains between Kyiv and Minsk intensified. Nevertheless, the Ukrainian side does not appear to have formally broken diplomatic ties with the Lukashenko regime, which acts as a loyal ally of Russia.

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The leader of the Belarusian democratic opposition, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who is widely believed to have defeated in the last presidential election in her country and is usually addressed in the West as President-elect of Belarus, wrote on her X site on Feb 3:

“I congratulate Ihor Kyzym on his appointment as 🇺🇦 Ambassador-at-Large to Belarus, responsible for relations with our democratic forces. This is an important & timely decision by FM Dmytro Kuleba. We look forward to working together at this decisive moment for our nations.”

Oddly, neither Kuleba nor his ministry appear to have formally announced Kyzym’s appointment. There is no mention of it on the ministry’s official site.

It is also strange that the foreign minister, not the Ukrainian president, are credited with having taken this step, which the Belarusian democratic opposition would like to interpret as a hand finally being extended to it by official Kyiv.

Tsikhanouskaya and her colleagues in the de facto Belarusian democratic government in exile – the United Transitional Cabinet of Belarus, strongly support Ukraine in its fight against Russian aggression and wish to see a democratic Belarus integrated together with Ukraine in the European Union. 

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Kyiv Post has also reported on the Belarusian volunteers fighting on Ukraine’s side against the Russian invaders.

The Ukrainian leadership has still to clarify its official position on Belarus as inexplicably it seems to be among the last Western governments to do so.

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