The minimum you need to know

Belarus is a peace-loving former Soviet Union state that enjoys close relations with Russia. But the government has traditionally sought improving relations with the European Union as well, and has done a lot to deserve the opportunity.

Belarus is geographically important to European-Russian peace because the country shares a large border with Ukraine. Belarus is also important to European-Russian peace because the Belarusian government helped both sides enter into the "Minsk peace treaty" between Europe and Russia. Obviously United States initiative and involvement was instrumental to the deal’s success. It was “signed” in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, in 2014. Then-Vice President Joe Biden supported the initiative agreed to by Then-President Barack Obama. France and Germany were direct parties to the Minsk peace agreement. The rest of Europe went along with that leadership and relied upon the borders established by it. It’s approximately the same line of control the media reports exists today. The Minsk peace agreement was tremendously successful. In fact, it was a historic arrangement. The treaty held the peace in the region for close to an entire decade.

The truth is that Ukraine ended the agreement in the press. Ukraine unilaterally (rhetorically) exited the deal in early 2022 in response to what they believed was unkind behavior from Russia. (Russia was trying to help NATO then but was not believed.) There was probably lots of planning on both sides. But Ukraine’s rhetoric regarding Minsk seemed to precipitate the subsequent NATO and Russian involvement in a conflict. Ukraine explained that they wanted to regain control of the territory on Russia’s side of the line of control but that were labeled as Ukrainian territory anyway on European maps.

In fairness to western map makers, this writer understands there has always been a perception among diplomats that there would be peaceful diplomacy about the future of some regions in Ukraine under Russia’s control. Russia insisted the government would never negotiate on Crimea but didn’t say the same thing about other regions. Russia said they would welcome European peace keepers on both sides of the line of control - just not heavy weapons. But everyone understood that any subsequent negotiations on territory would be purely diplomatic and peaceful. There wouldn’t be any weapons involved and the line of control established in the Minsk peace accord would be respected until diplomatic progress might be achieved. That peace accord was the right thing to do and held the peace for nearly a decade. It shouldn’t have been exited from.

Now Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko is showing tremendous leadership and integrity. Instead of presenting an unnecessarily tough-guy (deterrent) image, he’s showing that he cares deeply about peace instead. He has more than enough credibility to make peace. And he’s a hero to peace makers for asking everyone to return to a similar peace deal that his country made successful for everyone once before. It takes real courage as a Head of State to make a statement about peace in that region. It’s exemplary leadership from the President of Belarus.

President of Belarus
Alexander Lukashenko
February 2023

The media was very important to the success of the original Minsk agreement because everyone had to report that the deal was true before it was believed to have been accepted by everyone. There were face-to-face meetings between the heads of state. But those meetings weren’t as important as what the media said. The media can make a deal like this happen with the President of the United States’ go-ahead. A simple article and evening newscast can make a deal like this real. I believe the President of the United States is being suggested to - at his discretion- tell the media to agree to the Minsk peace deal again. It was President Biden’s deal to begin with. It can be called the Minsk II peace agreement. The press will obviously support the President in this matter of national security if he asks them to.

Russia already told the media they would support peace with approximately the same borders that existed under the Minsk peace agreement. Russia wasn’t as explicit that they wanted a return to the Minsk peace treaty. But the President of Belarus is making it perfectly clear now. His country made the peace agreement the first time around and probably can do it again right now. There are no guarantees. But Russia therefore appears completely ready for peace, and a return to the same line of control (more or less) that existed under the original Belarusian Minsk peace treaty.

Europe Held Together In Peace - 2014

The U.S. and European media’s response is very important now. If they do nothing for a week or two, the deal will be understood to have been offered by the Belarusian/Russian side and declined by NATO. NATO will be choosing to be aggressor instead of a return to its own peace deal. The President of Belarus is showing tremendous courage in encouraging everyone to enter into a Minsk II peace accord. Now this writer hopes all we need is for the President of the United States to tell the media to report that the agreement is reached.

The United States says there's desire for peace:

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken

March 2, 2023

This first week of March 2023, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on CNN's Fareed Zakaria's show the he supports European Union membership for Ukraine. (See video below.). This writer believes European Union membership would be in the interest of the Ukrainian population because ten to twenty million Ukrainians have fled to Europe, and it's reasonable for them to return with European citizenship to their homeland.

But the proposed expansion of the European Union might imply a simultaneous expansion of NATO in the direction of Russia, which NATO promised Russia it would not do. NATO has a 2010 OSCE obligation to Russia not to expand this way.

Olaf Scholz

Chancellor of Germany

But a compromise might be achievable. Perhaps Europe can offer Ukraine the same open border and open market access enjoyed by other European membership states without expanding NATO. Europe would agree to expand its marketplace but not it's military towards Russia this way. Ukraine would receive a non-NATO European Union membership. Only President Vladimir Putin knows. But perhaps Russia would be understanding of a non-NATO European Union membership for Ukraine if that meant there wouldn't be anymore weapons in Ukraine.

Here is what Russia's chief diplomat said this week about returning to the Minsk peace accord and about the OSCE.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the

Russian Federation

Sergey Lavrov

This writer understands from the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ comments in the interview above that Russia will tolerate an expansion of the European marketplace but not an expansion of the European military deep into Ukraine and in the direction of Russia.

He understands that Russia will tolerate an expansion of the European Union marketplace all the way to the Minsk Peace Treaty line of control as long as NATO withdraws weapons from Ukraine completely.

This writer further understands that these were the expectations established in the original Minsk Peace Treaty and in separate OSCE commitments to Russia.

Several weeks have now gone by without any mention from President Biden to the media of peace negotiations or peace treaty success. There haven’t been any public reports of a change in NATO’s armament of Ukraine. But hope for peace springs eternal. And it’s unimaginable that U.S. weapons could be used against an innocent city in the future, such as in the far east, when there’s clearly hope for diplomacy. This writer therefore still hopes President Biden will consult with U.S. alliance members and tell the media that NATO agrees to peace.

* There is also a Chinese peace proposal that the territorial integrity of Ukraine could become respected by all sides. The 12 point plans says that, “The sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of all countries must be effectively upheld.” Presumably this means a return to the Minsk Peace Treaty line of control because western Ukraine voted for President Zelensky and far eastern Ukraine voted to join Russia. That may have been why the Minsk peace agreement was respected by NATO for most of the previous decade.

** Russia may expect NATO governments to fully restore the reputation of the country upon achieving a peace deal. But some U.S. politicians lack the political courage to speak supportively of a security competitor even when that may be the moral and ethical thing for them to do. Perhaps a Minsk or other peace deal can be done secretly if U.S. politicians lack the political courage to agree to a peace treaty publicly. But it would be very reassuring to populations everywhere for public peace to be achieved.

This writer believes truth is on the side of peace and that NATO journalists should pattern “Russia peace.” There is nearly a moral obligation for peaceful patterning.