December 04, 2023

No Pictures with Lukashenko, Please


No Pictures with Lukashenko, Please
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko speaking at the COP28 in Dubai. Belarus MFA, Twitter.

On November 30, world leaders gathered in Dubai for the United Nations' annual Conference of Parts (COP) to discuss policies to mitigate climate change. However, regional tensions stole the spotlight: the Presidents of Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland refused to appear in the group picture because Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko would also be in it.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said, "This is called a family photo. Lukashenko does not belong to the family we want to belong to."

Nausėda pointed out the hypocrisy of "standing shoulder to shoulder with the head of a state that has become the springboard for Russian aggression in Ukraine" and pretending like nothing had happened. The Latvian and Polish Presidents, Edgars Rinkēvičs and Anzreij Duda, also refused to appear in the group picture alongside Lukashenko. 

Ukraine is not the only point of contention with the Belarussian head of state. Lukashenko's neighbors have long considered him a threat.

In late 2021, Minsk created a crisis at its border with Poland by tricking and trafficking people from the Middle East and Africa into neighboring territory. Polish and Belarussian police used excessive force against the migrants and left them in a "grey zone" in the woods between both countries. At least 200 people are missing, and 49 have died from wounds, hunger, and freezing conditions.

In 2022, after Wagner Group Leader Yevgeny Prigozhin led a mutiny in Russia, the mercenary army was stationed in Belarus. Minsk conducted military drills with Wagner near the Polish border, raising red flags in neighboring countries and leading to the mobilization of troops

The COP28 runs through December 12. Russian Presdient Vladimir Putin will not attend the UN's climate summit. Instead, the Russian delegation is headed by the president's special envoy for climate change, Ruslan Edelgeriev.

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