Since Russia unleashed a full-blown war against Ukraine almost 16 months ago, Belarus has allowed its territory, airspace and infrastructure to be used by the Russian military, with Belarusian top officials openly and systematically stating all-round support for Russian aggression.
On June 16, 25 Ukrainian lawmakers from different factions, including the majority Servant of the People, registered draft resolution #9397 on the recognition of Belarus as an aggressor state.
The draft resolution also appeals to the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assemblies of the Council of Europe, NATO, the OSCE, GUAM [Georgia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, and Moldova’s Organization for Democracy and Economic Development – ed.] and other governmental entities.
The authors refer to Article 3 of the UN General Assembly Resolution #3314 of Dec. 14, 1974, which states that “The action of a State in allowing its territory, which it has placed at the disposal of another State, to be used by that other State for perpetrating an act of aggression against a third State… qualifies as an act of aggression.”
They suggest that the Rada declare Belarus an aggressor state and call on the international community "to recognize the Republic of Belarus as an aggressor state providing comprehensive support to the Russian Federation, thus jeopardizing global peace and security."
The draft resolution urges the Cabinet of Ministers to consider the immediate severance of diplomatic relations between Ukraine and Belarus and to call on international partners for increased pressure on Belarus, including through sanctions.
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Kyiv Post approached the lawmakers to find out whether draft resolution #9397 has a chance to be adopted.
The Committee’s position
According to the Verkhovna Rada website, the draft resolution has been submitted to the Committee on Foreign Policy and Inter-parliamentary Cooperation. Its head Oleksandr Merezhko told Kyiv Post that Ukraine had from the very beginning recognized Belarus as de facto involved in Russia’s aggression by allowing Russia to use its territory for the purpose.
“There is no doubt Belarus is committing acts of aggression against Ukraine, but we would like experts, including in the Foreign Ministry, to specify how Belarus should be regarded in terms of international law: as an aggressor state on par with Russia or an accomplice state. In international law, this difference may be decisive in determining liability,” said Merezhko.
According to him, there is another question that may arise: Can Belarus be regarded as an aggressor state and an occupied territory at the same time?
“If it is regarded as an occupied territory, then international humanitarian law places the responsibility for everything happening there entirely on the state that occupies and effectively controls that territory,” said the lawmaker.
“Or it would be correct to target the Lukashenka regime rather than the state as such, because the regime might change from totalitarian to democratic, but Belarus would remain legally liable as a state. These and other questions need to be addressed, otherwise, there might be unpredictable political and legal consequences.”
He added that the Committee has not yet considered the draft resolution, waiting for the Foreign Ministry's position statement. He stressed that the parliament's position should be consonant with Ukraine's foreign policy.
“Any statements by the Verkhovna Rada regarding Belarus's complicity in Russian aggression should be consistently based on clear legal definitions and international principles of responsibility. Belarus must be held fully accountable for violating international law, including the acts of aggression it has committed against Ukraine,” Merezhko summed up.
“This resolution is an invitation to determining Ukraine’s official position with regard to Belarus”
Oleksiy Honcharenko, head of the parliamentary group “For Democratic Belarus,” told Kyiv Post that Belarus-related issues have difficulty making their way through the parliament. In late October of last year his group put forward draft resolution #8147 on recognizing Belarus as an occupied territory and severing diplomatic relations with the Lukashenka regime, but the document is still in the drawer.
“Draft resolution #9397 is a step in the right direction, but it doesn't mention the occupation of Belarus by the Lukashenka regime and the severance of diplomatic relations is formulated too mildly,” noted Honcharenko.
Yevhenia Kravchuk, deputy head of the Servant of the People faction, pointed to the necessity of a broad discussion on Ukraine’s official position regarding Belarus.
"This resolution is a kind of invitation to discuss what Ukraine’s official position on Belarus should be, especially after the transfer of Russian nuclear weapons to Belarus,” Kravchuk told Kyiv Post.
“The full-scale invasion has been going on for almost a year and a half, and we see that our children are deported to Belarus. We see this and many other aggravating circumstances in addition to the fact of Belarusian territory being used by Russian troops.”
“I believe that we need a broad discussion with the Foreign Ministry and members of parliament, especially the Committee before we determine our position,” she added.
Kyiv Post also asked Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry for a comment but has not received a reply at the time of publication.
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