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Belarus to send 200 troops to Syria alongside Russians

Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, the main opposition challenger to Lukashenko who was forced to leave the country after Lukashenko's re-election to a sixth term in an August 2020 vote that the opposition and the West saw as rigged, strongly criticized the deal for sending Belarusian troops to Syria.

She described the move as Lukashenko's payback for Moscow's support, arguing that it violates the country's constitution and runs contrary to the national interests.

“Lukashenko is paying with Belarus' sovereignty for the support he received in 2020 that helped him stay in power,” Tsikhanouskaya told The Associated Press.

Even if the move is Lukashenko's payback for Moscow's support, this doesn't explain why deploying troops to Syria is a bad idea. The quote by Tsikahnouskaya doesn't say anything either.

I'm looking for statements by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya as to:

  • Which article in Belarus's constitution is violated, and why?
  • Why is it against Belarus's national interests to deploy troops to Syria?

For the second question I'm looking for details. For example "Ukraine is about to invade us, we need all our soldiers here" would be an answer. Or "this deployment costs $___ and brings us no material benefit", or (since the deployment is for humanitarian reasons) "Belarus has enough humanitarian problems of our own and we can't help Syria with theirs".

None of the articles I've seen about this deployment have had any details. I am specifically looking for statements by Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

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Which article in Belarus's constitution is violated, and why?

On February 7th, Tsikhanouskaya tweeted the following:

Sending Belarus troops to Syria violates our neutrality & contradicts national interests. Belarusians shouldn't fight abroad. Lukashenka,who seized power & holds it illegally, drags Belarus into foreign conflicts, fuels regional crises, intimidates the world with nuclear weapons.

— Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya (@Tsihanouskaya)

This mention of violating neutrality would appear to refer to article 18 of the Belarusian constitution, which states:

In its foreign policy the Republic of Belarus shall proceed from the principles of equality of states, non-use of force or threat of force, inviolability of frontiers, peaceful settlement of disputes, non-interference in internal affairs and other generally recognised principles and norms of the international law.

The Republic of Belarus aims at making its territory a nuclear-free zone, and the state neutral.

This commitment to neutrality is subject to removal if proposed changes to the constitution pass in a referendum at the end of February.

Why is it against Belarus's national interests to deploy troops to Syria?

The tweet above mentions some of Tsikhanouskaya's reasoning; that Belarusians shouldn't fight abroad. As far as I can tell, no further statements have been made with regard to the deployment of Belarusian forces to Syria in particular, but earlier in 2022 she made various statements about the deployment of troops to Kazakhstan, again declaring it to be "contrary to the national interests of Belarus".

For example, on January 6th, a statement mentioned that the deployment of forces abroad can "lead to significant human and material losses and damage to the international reputation of our country". She continues:

We do not accept the use of Belarusian troops for resolving political conflicts both within Belarus and abroad. Their task is to protect the sovereignty and security of Belarus.

We do not accept the adoption of such decisions on behalf of the person deprived of legitimacy by the results of the 2020 elections, who by force seized and holds power in Belarus.

Later in January, Tsikhanouskaya condemned the presence of Russian troops in Belarus on the border with Ukraine, calling it a distraction from the internal problems of Belarus, and warning that it would damage the country's image abroad:

“Lukashenka is not able to solve economic problems, so he looks for enemies and postpones reforms. This worsens the already difficult situation of the Belarusian citizens. We urge to start solving the internal problems of the country instead of interfering in others’ conflicts,” reads the statement.

“We categorically oppose the involvement of Belarus into the hybrid conflict, unleashed now against Ukraine. The regime invites Russian troops to the territory of Belarus at a time of political aggravation, which is already an unfriendly step towards Ukraine. The image of Belarus as a peaceful and friendly country has been completely destroyed,” says Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya.

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  • Hm, did Tsikhanouskaya say anything about 1) the deployment to Syria is for humanitarian reasons and so presumably does not make Belarus a belligerent nation, and 2) Belarus is a member of the CSTO so it has treaty obligations if Kazakhstan requests help?
    – Allure
    Feb 9, 2022 at 9:43
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    @Allure no, I'm not aware of any further statements regarding the situation in Syria. On the second point though, the statement regarding Kazakhstan does mention the CSTO- "The Collective Security Treaty was framed to repel external aggression and was not designed to resolve the internal political problems of the member states."
    – CDJB
    Feb 9, 2022 at 9:45

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