Oleksii Arestovych: «We have made very serious mistakes in relation to Belarus, but it’s not too late to correct them»

Oleksii Arestovych / Office of the President of Ukraine
10 mins

На русском языке: Алексей Арестович: «Мы допустили очень серьезные ошибки в отношении Беларуси, но еще не поздно их исправить»
На беларускай мове: Аляксей Арастовіч: «Мы дапусцілі вельмі сур’ёзныя памылкі ў дачыненні да Беларусі, але яшчэ не позна іх выправіць»

On October 11, Oleksii Arestovych, Adviser to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, during a live stream with Mark Feygin shared his opinion on the Belarusian issue, stating that Ukraine made a big mistake with the attitude towards the Belarusian people.

Oleksii Arestovych is a Ukrainian intelligence officer, Lieutenant colonel, political and military columnist. Since February 24, 2022, Arestovych has been holding daily briefings on the current situation regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine as the Adviser to the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.

We quote Arestovych’s words unchanged.

"They do not understand the Belarusian situation"

There is a curious dissonance here. What is the dissonance? The fact is that, unfortunately, our collective unconscious is dominated by the formula: «all Belarusians are faggots.» It has prevailed thanks to some short-sighted and not very intelligent loudmouths. Some of them, unfortunately, were encouraged by very high political circles. It was picked up, because it’s very profitable to speculate now on «arise, great country!», «we hate everybody, we will defeat everybody.» They acted very unreasonably towards Belarusians: if they shoot from your territory, it is always your fault, you are all scoundrels, bastards, and so on. They do not understand the Belarusian situation, these people don’t want to understand the Belarusian situation.

That the regime there is inhumane, that in some ways it is more inhumane than Putin’s, more brutal, more effective in controlling Belarus. To act against it would mean to become a target at once. And in a very unsentimental way. Sometimes it can mean physically disappearing or passing through torture. Thousands of people have passed through prisons, thousands of lives have been crippled, thousands of destinies have been damaged, the country is small, the KGB controls a lot. And joyfully falling on Russian Iskanders and not letting them lift… It’s not such an easy situation, and this situation has lasted more than 20 years, more than Putin has ruled. The generation has already grown up.

Oleksii Arestovych: «We have made very serious mistakes in relation to Belarus, but it’s not too late to correct them»

It’s always easy to rebel against a dictator who, like Yanukovych, ruled for two years, tried to do something there and was taken down. But when «Yanukovych» is in power for 22 years, it’s a completely different situation, both mentally and materially, and the degree of control of the regime’s security services is much higher. And our people think that we are such heroes? Let’s say. But I assure you that if we had Yanukovych ruling for 22 years, it would be much harder for us to be heroes and raise the Maidan. Another question is whether this would be possible in principle.

The Belarusians we have here, the Kalinouski regiment, for example, other volunteers, they have so far demonstrated extraordinary fighting qualities. Just great guys. And at the same time, they conduct such a great modern warfare. Highly professional, drones with targeting, with everything else, in general, super guys.

I always advise these loudmouths who say that «Belarusians are weak» to go tell the Kalinouski regiment this, that «Belarusians are weak.»

"We have made some very serious mistakes in relation to Belarus"

Nevertheless, this attitude has prevailed in some way more than we would prefer to. The rhetoric towards Belarusians is terrible in my opinion, and we failed to solve the main task – to separate the regime from the people. Even though the people have a legally elected president – Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya. There is even a figure who can be separated. But some jerks like to criticize Tsikhanouskaya, saying that she is «weak» and «worthless», and so on. She is the legally elected president of Belarus. Let me remind you that Ukraine has not recognized Lukashenka as a legally elected president of Belarus.

Therefore, we have made some very serious mistakes in relation to Belarus. It is not too late to correct them. I can say this for myself personally. I, Oleksii Arestovych, say the following. I personally declare that I’ve always separated the regime. Not only Belarus-Lukashenka, but also the Belarusian people. I still separate very clearly Putin’s regime and the people of Russia, whatever happens. People are people, and cannibals are cannibals. These are very different things.

So, for me, Belarusians remain a brotherly people. The Belarusian people are being held hostage. The Belarusian people are occupied by the Putin regime to a large extent, and the Putin regime treats them exactly the same, with some exceptions, as it does the people in our occupied territories. The only thing is that there are no mass murders there, but the Lukashenka regime successfully copes with mass terror there. Putin’s regime doesn’t need to, they do the job for it.

"Belarusians are in the same situation as our people in the occupied territories"

And when you call on Belarusians for a mass uprising, it is the same as calling on our people in the occupied territories to uprise. It’s much harder to do than it seems to be. Don’t think that Belarus is such an independent country. Everything there is very strictly controlled by two guys. Nevertheless, these people manage and managed in the most active phase of the fight for Kyiv to launch train supplies not directly to Homel, but through Brest training ground, which saved us several days. The defense operation lasted a little more than a month, a few days were a crucial win. We don’t know how many Ukrainian lives were saved at the expense of those Belarusians who damaged the railroad system and launched Russian military cargoes to bypass. And I will say that there are a great many. And this is our gratitude to Belarusians when we tell them there that they are all…

Oleksii Arestovych: «We have made very serious mistakes in relation to Belarus, but it’s not too late to correct them»

Once again, please understand. I appeal to our people: Belarusians are in the same situation as our people in the occupied territories. You’re not calling on our people for a mass uprising, knowing that it’s impossible for an ordinary person to fight in the occupied territories. Only specially trained people can do that, with state support, which we give to our partisans, and in Belarus it is an unsolvable task so far. They have nowhere to get this support from.

Therefore, I say again: the Belarusian question is one of our main mistakes during this war, because we put the question with mass accusations against Belarusians, with indiscrimination of who, whom and how, etc. And that, of course, is wrong. I’m still saying, I’ll be very clear: Lukashenka is one thing, the legally elected president is another, the Belarusian people are the third, quite the third, and Belarus is actually under the Russian occupation now.

It is, of course, declared as a Union State, but, excuse me, our occupied territories are declared by the Kremlin to be a part of Russia. So what now? What does this change? So I will correct this mistake as much as I can. And we’ll see what happens.

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