Russia invites Lukashenko to visit Crimea

“Crimea is ready to welcome the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko”, said the head of Crimea, Sergey Aksyonov, on his VKontakte page.

"When our president and foreign ministry agree on the visit of the Belarusian leader, we will be happy to welcome Alexander Grigoryevich in Crimea," Aksyonov wrote.

Aksyonov called Belarus the "closest" and "brotherly" country. The head of annexed Crimea expressed confidence that Lukashenko, as well as all other Belarusian citizens, will feel at home in Crimea.

Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on July 3 that the Russian authorities are waiting for the self-proclaimed president of Belarus to visit Crimea.

Earlier, on June 1, Lukashenko said that the country's authorities will work out the possibility of beginning regular flights to Crimea. He noted that Belarusians like to visit the resort town of Mishor in Crimea.

Lukashenko ordered its government to begin the flights to the peninsula after Ukraine closed its airspace to Belarusian planes. Kyiv, in turn, promised to impose sanctions if Belarus begins flights to Crimea.

In February 2014, armed people in uniforms without insignias appeared in Crimea and captured the Supreme Council of Crimea, the Simferopol Airport, the Kerch ferry crossing and other strategic objects, and prevented the Ukrainian army from taking action. Initially, the Russian government refused to acknowledge that these armed people were Russian soldiers, but President Vladimir Putin later admitted it.

On 16 March 2014, a referendum on the status of Crimea was held in Crimea and Sevastopol, in which the inhabitants supposedly voted for the peninsula to become part of Russia. The outcome of the so-called referendum is not recognized by Ukraine, the EU or the US. On 18 March, Putin announced the “annexation” of Crimea to Russia.

International organizations have declared the annexation illegal and condemned Russia’s actions. Western countries have imposed economic sanctions on Russia in connection with the annexation. Russia claims to have “restored historical justice”. Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, declared 20 February 2014 the start of Russia’s temporary occupation of Crimea and Sevastopol.

  Lukashenko, Crimea, Ukraine, Russia

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