Russia is extending its affect into Belarus and will use it as leverage towards NATO international locations, Gitanas Nausėda, the president of Lithuania instructed CNBC in an unique interview Monday.
“We see the navy buildup of Russian forces in Ukraine, in [the] Kaliningrad area and naturally we see what’s occurring in Belarus proper now. We see that this nation is shedding its final parts of independence, and could possibly be used within the arms of Russians as a weapon … for overseas aggressive actions in direction of NATO allies,” the Lithuanian chief mentioned.
Lithuania, a nation within the Baltic area, shares a border with Belarus and has been a member of NATO since 2004. The president has beforehand described the connection between Belarus and Russia as one other Crimea — in reference to Russia’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.
Belarus was underneath the worldwide highlight final month when a civilian airplane touring from Greece to Latvia was compelled to land in Minsk, and two passengers — opponents of the Belarussian regime — have been detained.
Chatting with CNBC Monday, Nausėda mentioned “to swallow Belarus” was an “previous” thought in Russia.
The Russian authorities weren’t instantly accessible for remark when contacted by CNBC. Beforehand, Moscow has criticized the deployment of NATO troops in Japanese Europe and individually Russia has denied involvement within the touchdown of the Ryanair flight in Belarus.
Russian President Vladimir Putin met his Belarussian counterpart, Alexander Lukashenko, final month in Sochi within the aftermath of the touchdown of the Ryanair flight in Minsk.
NATO leaders are assembly in Brussels on Monday for his or her first face-to-face gathering since U.S. President Joe Biden began his tenure on the White Home. On the prime of their discussions is the connection with Moscow, which, in keeping with NATO Secretary Basic Jens Stoltenberg, is at its lowest level for the reason that Chilly Conflict.
This gathering is seen as a stepping stone within the runup to a gathering between Biden and Putin later this week in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Putin ought to perceive that any malign actions, any navy aggression towards the neighbors, towards the alliance of NATO ought to be very expensive — and prices shall be political, financial,” Nausėda additionally mentioned Monday.
“If we ship this message, we are able to change a bit this aggressive conduct [that] Russia is displaying not too long ago,” he added.