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.