February 21, 2024

European Leaders Urge ICC Arrest Warrant against Belarusian Leader Alexander Lukashenko

Members of the European Parliament have called on the International Criminal Court (ICC) to issue an arrest warrant for Belarusian strongman Alexander Lukashenko, calling Belarus out for playing the role of “accomplice” in Russia’s war against Ukraine.

The arrest warrant should be issued in part because Lukashenko, who allowed Russian forces to use Belarus as a staging ground for attacks in Ukraine, was involved in Russia’s violent deportation of Ukrainian children, members of parliament, who acts as the said legislative body of the European Union, i report released on Tuesday.

The call comes after news that more than 2,100 children from Ukraine have been kidnapped from Russian-occupied cities in Ukraine and taken to Belarus, according to an opposition figure who shared information with the ICC in recent weeks.

Lukashenko admitted that there are Ukrainian children in Belarus, but he claimed that there is a way to recover from the trauma of the war. “They really don’t want to leave,” he said.

“Belarus is responsible for damage caused to Ukraine and for crimes committed in Ukraine,” press release regarding the decision states, urging EU member states and entities to “take all necessary measures at the international level to enable criminal prosecution of those political and military leaders of Belarus responsible for crimes against humanity and genocide.”

Belarus, which joined a so-called “union state” with Russia, has been helping Russia wage a war in Ukraine since the early days of the invasion, offering the territory a staging ground for attacks on northern Ukraine. . It has renewed that pledge of support in recent months, with Belarusian and Russian troops training together inside Belarus and in Minsk allowing Russia to move tactical nuclear weapons within Belarusian territory.

Earlier this month, Lukashenko announced that he was involved in negotiating an end to the Wagner stage rebellion in Russia where Belarusian opposition figures and Russian watchdogs strongly favored the President of the Vladimir Putin’s Russia in a time of crisis. Since then, thousands of Wagner mercenaries have flooded into Belarus as part of the negotiated end to the rebellion, according to the Belarusian project Hajun.

In their report, MEPs call on Belarus to host the nuclear weapons, controlled by Russia, and note that the infiltration of the Wagner Group into Belarus creates “potential new security risks for Ukraine and its neighbors EU of Belarus and for the EU as a whole” as well.

The move introduced political instability in Lukashenko’s own rule in Belarus, too, since many Belarusians do not want to welcome mercenaries Yevgeniy Prigozhin and Wagner into their country, a US ambassador told the Daily Beast.

The political opposition in Belarus, led by exiled opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, has been calling Russia’s use of Belarus for the war in Ukraine a hybrid or de-facto occupation for months, as previously reported by The Daily Beast . The democratic opposition expressed support for the MPs’ report on Tuesday.

“I am extremely grateful for the support of MPs in condemning the ongoing violations of human rights in Belarus,” said Tsikhanouskaya.

The ICC has already issued arrest warrants for Putin and Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova for their role in the illegal transfer of children from Ukraine during the war.

Like Russia, European countries must look to hold Lukashenko accountable for his role in the war in Ukraine and human rights abuses, said Petras Austrevicius, a Lithuanian politician and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Subcommittee on Security and Protection.

“Lukashenka’s regime has engaged in unprecedented internal repression against the Belarusian people and is an accomplice in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” Austrevicius said in a statement. “Therefore, the EU’s strategy towards Belarus must take into account the crimes of the Lukashenka regime, seek accountability, and, in cooperation with the democratic forces of Belarus, find the necessary solutions and take decisive action to achieve aspirations European people of Belarus for the fulfillment of freedom. and independence.”

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