Crimea will not be part of Ukraine in the near future, Alyaksandr Lukashenka believes. During Thursday’s meeting with Ukrainian journalists, the Belarusian leader was directly asked about the feasibility of Russia’s giving back the peninsula.
“I do not think so. I believe that, as the president [of Russia] says, this issue is closed today and for good. This is what cautious and reserved Lavrov says. So does the entire leadership. There is a consensus in the Russian society on this issue. There is no other issue where the Russian government has such support of the Russians as on Crimea,” state-run news agency BelTA quotes Lukashenka.
According to him, even if those condemning the annexation of Crimea come to power in Russia, they will not return it to Ukraine.
“Believe me, I know what I am talking about. I cannot imagine the circumstances under which Russia would abandon Crimea itself,” the Belarusian president added.
Most of UN member states did not recognise the 2014 referendum in Crimea. G7, NATO member states, the European Union, the Council of Europe regarded the Russian actions as aggression and violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. In April 2014, Ukraine’s Verkhovna Rada adopted a law declaring Crimea and the city of Sevastopol city the territory seized as a result of ‘the armed aggression of the Russian Federation’. The International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague recognised the annexation of the Crimean peninsula as a military conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and a Russian occupation of Ukrainian territory.
Officially, Belarus has never recognised Crimea as part of Russia. For example, after the conflict in Donbas broke out, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said that Ukraine ‘should stay united’ but stressed that ‘Crimea is de facto Russia’s territory’. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry, however, recommends the citizens to take into account the norms of Ukrainian legislation while travelling to Crimea.