Why Is Ukraine Rejecting Its Natural Allies?
Even if Ukraine fully liberates its Russian-occupied territories, there will be no genuine security in the region as long as Belarus’s longtime dictator, Aleksandr Lukashenko, remains in power. But not only have Ukrainian leaders failed to see this; they have been spurning Lukashenko’s domestic opponents.
WARSAW – Immediately after World War II, the Paris-exiled Polish intellectual Jerzy Giedroyc (of Lithuanian origins, born in Minsk) coined a phrase that would come to define Poland’s foreign policy toward its eastern neighbors: “There will be no independent Poland without an independent Belarus, Lithuania, and Ukraine.”
Since the fall of communism, it has been an article of diplomatic faith in Warsaw. Ukrainian patriots, who inspired current Ukrainian policies, have thought similarly. Even if Ukraine fully liberates its Russian-occupied territories, Poles and Ukrainians will not feel truly secure as long as Belarus’s longtime dictator, Aleksandr Lukashenko, continues his misrule. Therefore, an alliance between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s administration and the Belarusian opposition therefore seems natural. Unfortunately, nothing of the kind has emerged.
Instead, some Ukrainian leaders have spurned potential partners. Consider the reaction from Mykhailo Podolyak, an important adviser to Zelensky, following news that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize would be shared by the Belarusian human-rights advocate Ales Bialiatski, the Russian NGO Memorial, and the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties. He tweeted: “Nobel Committee has an interesting understanding of word ‘peace’ if representatives of two countries that attacked a third one receive @NobelPrize together. Neither Russian nor Belarusian organizations were able to organize resistance to the war.”