Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has criticized Russia’s decision to station nuclear weapons in Belarus as part of a campaign to “threaten” and “scare” neighboring countries and highlight Moscow’s dominance over Minsk.
Landsbergis echoed comments from many Western governments over the signing of documents in May by Belarus and Russia that allow for the placement of Russian tactical nuclear weapons on Belarus’ territory. He called the move “saber-rattling” and the possibility of scaring small countries like Lithuania and other Baltic countries into changing their positions.
NATO, which brings its border to Belarus, has called the move “dangerous and irresponsible.” In June, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the first nuclear warheads were delivered to Belarus. Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland have been among Ukraine’s most vocal supporters in Europe.
Landsbergis argues that the threat of moving nuclear arms is more dangerous than the intention to bring them to Belarus. He argues that the information campaign shows Putin’s disregard for Belarus’ sovereignty and constitutional norms. The European Parliament has called Belarus a “satellite state of Russia” and expressed concern about its political, economic, military, and cultural subordination to Moscow.
Belarus has reopened ties with Moscow following sanctions imposed by the West following the 2020 presidential election. Lukashenka, who participated in a mutiny by the Wagner Group, claimed he helped stop the revolt by agreeing to host Wagner troops in Belarus.
Russian nuclear weapons on Belarusian soil, escalating fears of a potential military confrontation in the region. Lithuania, which shares a border with Belarus, has been closely monitoring these developments. Lithuanian Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis emphasized the need for a coordinated international response to prevent a dangerous escalation and emphasized the need for urgent attention from the global community.
Concerns over nuclear weapons in Belarus stem from reports of increased military activity by Russian forces, including the deployment of advanced missile systems capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Belarus’s political instability and President Lukashenko’s unstable position have raised concerns about the country’s control over its military assets, which could be used by Russia to assert dominance in the region.
Lithuania has called for immediate consultations within NATO and other international forums to assess the situation and formulate a unified response. Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis emphasized the importance of solidarity among NATO member states and the alliance’s collective defense principles in deterring potential aggression.
The situation in Belarus remains complex, with the opposition calling for free and fair elections and Lukashenko’s regime clinging to power through repression and external support. The risk of military escalation, including the use of nuclear weapons, is a grave concern for neighbouring countries like Lithuania.
The international community, led by NATO and the European Union, must work diligently to de-escalate tensions, promote peaceful conflict resolution, and ensure the safety and security of the region. Lithuania and its NATO allies remain vigilant and committed to maintaining regional stability.