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 peace because the country has large borders with Poland, Ukraine and Russia, and aligns closely with Russia. Belarus reportedly has accepted a substantial Russian military presence. Belarus is also very important because the Belarusian government authored a historic "Minsk peace treaty" between Europe and Russia that held the peace for eight years. It was “signed” in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, in 2014 and was in effect through early 2022, and enjoyed bipartisan U.S. support. The deal held throughout former President Donald Trump’s term in office. Then-Vice President Joe Biden and Then-President Barack Obama originally signed it. France and Germany were direct parties to the Minsk peace agreement as well. The rest of NATO became bound by it as a result. It established approximately the same line of control that the media reports exists today very successfully.

Ukraine ended the agreement in the press - not Russia. Ukraine unilaterally exited from the treaty in 2022 in response to what Ukrainians said was unkind behavior from Russia. (Russia was trying to help NATO then but was not believed.) Ukraine’s dissolution of the Minsk treaty seemed to precipitate subsequent conflict across the line of control.

Russia used to request European peace keepers on both sides of the line of control at the United Nations to preserve that treaty but obviously doesn’t anymore. Russia’s current position is that heavy weapons - in fact all weapons - should be removed from their border now. (There is a twelve point Chinese peace proposal acceptable to Russia for weapons to be removed by all sides from the entirety of Ukraine in exchange for Ukraine regaining control over contested areas.)

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko showed tremendous leadership and integrity. Instead of presenting an unnecessarily tough-guy image in recent years, he showed that he cares deeply about peace instead. He has more than enough credibility to make a second Minsk peace agreement happen. And he offered to do so. It takes courage as a Head of State to commit to peace in that region. This represented exemplary leadership on peace from the President of Belarus.

President of Belarus
Alexander Lukashenko
February 2023

The media was very important to the success of the Minsk I peace agreement because news presenters had to presume to audiences everywhere that the deal was real for it to then become real militarily. There were face-to-face meetings between heads of state. But those meetings may not have been as important to the deal’s success as what the media said.

Perhaps the media can help make a deal like this happen again with go-aheads from the Presidents of the United States, Ukraine and Russia. Simple articles and evening newscasts from all sides might lead to resumption of peace. Russia told the media in 2023 that they would support a ceasefire with approximately the same borders that existed under the Minsk peace agreement. So there’s some possibility a Minsk II peace accord could succeed.

Europe Held Together In Peace - 2014

The United States says there's desire for peace:

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken
March 2, 2023

During the first week of March 2023, Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced on CNN's Fareed Zakaria's show that he supported European Union membership for Ukraine. (See video below.) The Ukrainian government was obviously very pleased. Ten to twenty million Ukrainians reportedly fled to Europe. This writer believes it would be wonderful for them to gain European citizenship this way. That would also open up Ukraine for substantial amounts of trade. But NATO has a 2010 OSCE obligation to Russia not to expand its military presence all the way to the Russian border. So an agreement clearly must be reached with the Russian side.

Olaf Scholz

Chancellor of Germany

Perhaps Europe can offer Ukraine the same open market access enjoyed by other European membership states without expanding NATO all the way to the Russian border. Perhaps Europe could agree to expand its marketplace but not its military presence towards Russia this way. And perhaps Russia would be understanding as a result.

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

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the

Russian Federation

Sergey Lavrov

This writer understands from the Minister of Foreign Affairs’ comments (above) that Russia can tolerate an expansion of the European marketplace but not an expansion of the European military.

China clearly hopes for peaceful resolution.

President Xi Jinping

People’s Republic of China

This writer believes NATO journalists should continue patterning “Russia peace.” That can increase the possibility of a peaceful result.