Zelenski proposes international observers on the Ukrainian-Belarusian border

Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelenski has proposed to the G7 leaders to send an international observation mission to the border with Belarus, so that an external actor can accredit that Ukrainian forces have not perpetrated any attacks against the neighboring country and do not plan to do so in the future.

Zelenski has used the emergency meeting of the major powers to draw attention to Belarus, which already serves as a platform for attacks for Russia’s interests and now represents “a greater threat,” in the face of the evident attunement between Presidents Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin.

According to Zelenski, “Russia is trying to directly drag Belarus into this war, with provocations that speak of us preparing an attack.” However, “Ukraine has not planned and does not plan military actions against Belarus.”

For this reason, and in the face of the rhetorical escalation coming from Minsk, the Ukrainian leader has offered as a “solution” the deployment of an observation mission. He has not clarified the format, which he leaves to future diplomatic negotiations, but has urged the G7 countries to support the proposal.

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The president has thanked in general terms the support of his international partners after two days in which the Russian forces have launched more than a hundred missiles on different Ukrainian cities, but he is confident that the aid will go further. He also stated that Ukrainian intelligence suspects that Russia has ordered 2,400 drones from Iran which it has already begun to use over Ukraine.

He has therefore called for more air defense equipment, as he sees it as key to eliminating “the main element of Russian terror,” missile attacks. He wants the issue also to be part of the agenda of the NATO defense ministers’ meeting scheduled for Wednesday, to which Ukraine has also been invited.

However, Zelenski has warned that Russian actions “are not limited to missiles” and, in its effort to “provoke chaos in Ukraine and throughout the democratic world,” it would be promoting other types of actions, from “sabotage” on gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea to the “artificial” food crisis, which affects the whole world, to a nuclear “blackmail” for the control it exercises over the Zaporiyia power plant.

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Zelenski has welcomed successive rounds of sanctions — eight in the case of the EU — but has called for more. After the “new phase of escalation” that seems to have begun, “a new package is needed, a strong one,” in the words of the president, in favor of “blocking” the Russian energy sector with “hard” caps on the price of gas and oil.

“These steps can bring peace closer. They will encourage a terrorist country to think about peace, about the losses of war,” the president has argued during his speech, released by his office.

Zelenski, as he has already expressed on other occasions, sees no room for dialogue with Russia as long as Putin remains in the Kremlin. “Everyone should realize that there will only be talks with another leader in Russia (….) or in a very different configuration, so that the great terrorist will not have the opportunity to influence key decisions,” he said, alluding to his counterpart.

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