What pro-government commentators in Belarus think about Crimea

On March 17, Crimea's Supreme Council declared the peninsula's independence from Ukraine and immediately voted to join the Russian Federation. Political commentator Yury Shautsou says it is too early to talk about Belarus' stance towards Crimea becoming part of Russia.

“We can see legal steps being made by the Russian side. We can see that legal framework was developed for Crimea to join Russia. But Russia has not done so. When it does, we will see how Belarus will react.”

In the view of Yury Shautsou, the position of Belarus in the Ukraine-Russia conflict is obvious. It was voiced both by Belarus foreign minister Uladzimir Makei and the head of state Aliaksandr Lukashenka.

“As of today, we have the statement by the foreign minister and, most importantly, by the president that Belarus supports Ukraine's territorial integrity. They also said that Belarus would seek to maintain good relations with Uraine and Ukrainian authorities. However, one needs to understand that Russia remains Belarus' main ally and partner.”

But there may be a problem for Belarus trying to sit on the two chairs by supporting both Moscow and Kiev - it will hardly be possible for a long time. Relations between Belarus' closest neighbors have deteriorated to the edge of war.

Vadzim Hihin, editor-in-chief of Belaruskaja Dumka (Belarusian Thought) magazine, also reckons that Belarus should respect Ukraine's territorial integrity but not without exceptions.

“Belarus has always respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries, including fraternal Ukraine. However, authorities in any country should be able to to protect this sovereignty and territorial integrity and guarantee the rights and freedoms of their citizens,” he writes in his blog on BELTA state news agency's website.

Mr Hihin adds it was the West who began to interfere with Kiev's internal affairs, while Russia simply "could not but notice what was happening and had to interfere.”

ECOO think tank head Siarhei Musiyenka tells Euroradio it is premature to make analysis of Belarus' stance towards possible annezation of Crimea by Russia, because this is yet to happen. But he describes as a positive thing the Sunday's referendum on Crimea's independence.

“One needs to sort it out. The referendum has just take place… I reckon it is a positive thing. Pople expressed their will at the referendum. This is always positive.”

Political commentator Siarhei Kizima from the Academy of Public Administration under the President of Belarus declined to comment on the situation in Crimea and Minsk's official stance "without clearance from superiors".

Meanwhile, Belarusian MFA's spokesman Dzmitry Mironchyk said that Belarus is ready "to make every possible effort to bring the relations between Ukraine and Russia back into normal." That was the answer to Euroradio's question whether Belarus recognized the results of Crimea referendum.