Lukašenka: Confrontation between Russia and West has reached highest level

Distrust and confrontation between Russia and the West have reached the highest level, Aliaksandr Lukašenka said Tuesday, speaking at the Second Minsk Dialogue Forum on the theme of “European Security: Stepping Back from the Brink.”

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“Security and disarmament experts on both sides are already painting a picture that is horrible but true,” the Belarusian leader said. “Within just a few minutes, Russia and NATO, for example, can go from an unintended local conflict to a nuclear war,”

Owing to the recent withdrawal of the key parties – the United States and Russia – from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF Treaty), the process of destroying the arms control architecture has in fact entered the final stretch, Mr. Lukašenka noted.

“The 2010 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty is the last line,” he said. “If the parties fail to agree to extend it, in just two years – as far as I know, in 2021 – the world will find itself in a situation where relations in the field of nuclear weapons are not regulated at all. Mankind is moving with giant strides towards a line beyond which there is an abyss.”

Nations have reasons not to trust each others, Mr. Lukašenka noted. “Unfriendly or even aggressive actions in the past entrench mutual suspicions and misgivings for many years to come,” he said.

“Ideally, we should return to a European security concept based on cooperation, to the values of the Helsinki Final Act and the Charter of Paris for a New Europe. We all urgently need a strong success story that would convince even fierce skeptics and hawks that despite deep contradictions and misunderstanding, [the national] security interests [of countries] in Europe are absolutely compatible.”