These words of mine will be addressed to the citizens of Belarus.
Today, all of you are called to the polls to vote in the referendum. This could look like a normal political process. But now it certainly cannot be anything normal.
Now decisions are made on a completely different level.
Last night in Ukraine was cruel. More shelling. More bombing of residential areas, civilian infrastructure. Today there is not a single object in the country that the invaders would not consider a valid target for themselves. They fight against everyone. They fight against everything that’s alive - against kindergartens, against residential buildings and even against ambulances. They use rocket artillery, missiles against entire urban areas in which there has never been any military infrastructure.
Vasylkiv, Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and many other cities of Ukraine are surviving in conditions that were last seen on our land and your land during the Second World War.
But in the war that is going on now, you are not on the same side with us. Regretfully. From your territory, the troops of the Russian Federation launch rockets into Ukraine. Our children are being killed from your territory, our houses are being destroyed, they are trying to blow up everything that has been built over decades - and, by the way, not only by us, but also by our fathers, our grandfathers.
And all this is also a de facto referendum for you, Belarusians. You decide who you are. You decide who to be. How will you look into the eyes of your children, how will you look into the eyes of each other, your neighbors. And we are your neighbors. We, Ukrainians. Be Belarus, not Russia! You are making this choice right now. Exactly today.
Now there is a lot of news about possible negotiations between Ukraine and Russia, which can end this war and restore peace to all of us. And they often mention your capital. Minsk. As a platform for these negotiations. A place we didn't choose. And, in fact, you did not, too.The leadership of Russia chose it. And now, there is an offer to meet there again.
Four days ago, cruise missiles, planes, helicopters and equipment came from Belarusian territory. They hit our homes, they hit our lives. The heavy equipment followed. And this is a dreadful deja vu. You know, Kyiv was attacked at 4 am. Someone has such a sense of humor, just as in 1941. You slept, Belarusian brothers. And we woke up. But you are still sleeping. And we haven't gone to bed since that moment. Because we are fighting. We are fighting for our country. We are fighting for our freedom. Because we have every right to do so.
If there were no aggressive actions from your territory, we could speak in Minsk. In your city. When you were neutral, we spoke in Minsk, we met many times. This is right. This is truthful. To talk like neighbors. Right now, you haven't made your big choice yet. And it is ahead, it should depend only on you. Not on Russia, not on Ukraine, not on America, but on the people of Belarus.
That is why now we say - not Minsk. The venue for the meeting may be other cities. Of course, we want peace. We want to meet, we want the end of the war! Warsaw, Bratislava, Budapest, Istanbul, Baku - we proposed to the Russian side all of this. Any other city suits us in a country from whose territory missiles are not launched. Only in this way can negotiations be honest. And they can really end the war.
I sincerely wish Belarus to once again become that kind, safe Belarus that everyone saw not so long ago. Make the right choice. I am sure this is the main choice of your great people.