Monday 15 November 2021
Kremlin is getting involved
Putin offers to mediate between Belarus and EU
Until a few days ago, Russia wanted to stay out of the Belarus conflict. Now President Putin has declared himself ready to mediate between the European Union and Minsk. The Belarusian ruler Lukashenko is accused of smuggling migrants into the European Union as a means of coercion.
In a crisis involving thousands of migrants at the Polish-Belarusian border, Russia presented itself as a mediator between Belarus and the European Union. Asked how Moscow could help, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said according to the Interfax agency: “Only as an interlocutor in this matter.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin had previously offered help, but did not say in concrete terms what it would look like. The Kremlin chief also expressed hope for talks between current Chancellor Angela Merkel and authoritarian Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko.
Just last week, Putin rejected Chancellor Angela Merkel’s request to influence Belarus. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also called on Putin to use his influence over Belarus’s head of state, Alexander Lukashenko. In a video greeting at the “SZ Economic Summit” in Berlin, von der Leyen said “undoubtedly” Putin had this influence.
“I think it’s very important that he exercise this influence now, as the next few days will show.” Lukashenko’s approach is “treacherous”. Therefore, a fifth round of sanctions by the EU is the logical result. “We’re off and we’re fast.” It also affects airlines that are involved in transporting refugees.
Russia’s head of state has a direct line to Lukashenko, who has been accused by the EU of bringing people from crisis zones to Belarus in order to smuggle them into Europe. It is believed that Lukashenko, often criticized as “the last dictator in Europe”, used migrants to force the West into negotiations. The European Union has not recognized Lukashenko as president since last year’s presidential election, which was deemed wrong.
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