An exiled opposition leader from Belarus has called on President Aleksandr Lukashenko to blame his regime for complicity in the war in Ukraine and to withdraw Russian troops from Belarusian soil, after a CNN investigation revealed new evidence that the country provided medical aid to the wounded. Russian troops
Russia used Belarus as a stage for its invasion of Ukraine in February, deploying troops and weapons on its territory. A report published by CNN on Wednesday found that the authoritarian Belarusian government also provided medical aid to the Russian military, who were secretly taken to several civilian hospitals south of Gomel and treated by Belarusian doctors under strict surveillance.
Opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who has lived in exile in Lithuania since 2020, said Lukashenko’s regime helped facilitate Russia’s attack on Ukraine – in violation of international law – and the CNN investigation is further evidence of its complicity.
“This is important evidence of Lukashenka’s crimes and complicity in the war. These testimonies collected by CNN journalists will help in the future investigation and bring Lukashenka to court,” he said in a statement. “This proves that the regime participated in and facilitated the Russian attack.”
“But this is also a testament to the courage of these Belarusian doctors. They, despite threats and terror, recorded the truth so that Belarusians and the world would know what Putin and Lukashenka are really doing in Ukraine,” he added.
In interviews with Belarusian doctors, members of the country’s medical diaspora, human rights activists, military analysts and security sources, CNN examined the role Belarus played in the treatment of Russian casualties while the Kremlin sought to cover them up. Their testimony and documentation, which a doctor shared with CNN — dozens of X-rays revealed injuries to Russian troops — shed new light on the Lukashenko regime’s support for Putin’s war.
Lukashenko has so far avoided deploying his troops south into Ukraine, but as losses and pressure mount on Russian President Vladimir Putin, there are growing fears that could change.
Russia has put billions of dollars into supporting Lukashenko’s regime. After a rigged presidential election in 2020 cemented Lukashenko’s long reign, fueled by widespread pro-democracy protests, he held on to power with Putin’s support.
Tsikhanouskaya ran against Lukashenko in the vote, and it is widely believed that she won. But he was forced to leave Belarus amid a Kremlin-backed crackdown on the government.
In April, Tsikhanouskaya met with members of the US State Department in Washington, where she testified that Lukashenko was involved in the war in Ukraine. Documents seen by CNN detail how Belarus provided key infrastructure to Russia, including missile launch sites, rail lines and medical aid.
“I believe that Belarus should help Ukraine, that all Russian troops should be withdrawn from our territory,” Tsikhanouskaya said, while insisting that ordinary Belarusians should not be punished for the regime’s actions.
“The participation of the Lukashenka regime in Putin’s criminal war should not condemn the Belarusian people to the role of pariah. There are many who continue to fight against the attackers, including guerrillas, military volunteers, cyber entrepreneurs. Their brave actions show that Belarusians are not the same as Lukashenka’s regime.’