If Belarus recognizes the disputed Crimean Peninsula as part of Russia, Minsk will deal an “irreparable blow” to its relationship with Ukraine, Kiev’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warned on Wednesday.
Speaking to the press in Latvia, where a meeting of NATO foreign ministers is taking place, Kuleba reacted to news that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was planning a trip to Crimea. This would essentially mean that Belarus would become one of a handful of nations to recognize the peninsula as Russian.
“We will assess [Lukashenko’s] actions,” Kuleba told the press. “If Belarus recognizes Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea, this will deal an irreparable blow to Ukrainian-Belarusian relations.”
“We will act in full force. Crimea is not an issue where we can abstain,” Kuleba continued.
Crimea was re-absorbed into Russia in March 2014, following a referendum. That vote is unrecognized by Ukraine and most of the world, which views the peninsula as illegally occupied by Moscow and the referendum illegitimate.
That same month, a vote in the United Nations General Assembly saw 100 nations support the “territorial integrity of Ukraine,” while 11 were against the motion. Those were Armenia, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, Nicaragua, North Korea, Russia, Sudan, Syria, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. Abstaining were 58 members.
On Tuesday, Lukashenko said he intends to visit Crimea, together with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin] promised me that he would bring me along to Crimea to showcase novelties there, to show what new has been done there,” Lukashenko said.
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