Lithuania's Nauseda wants more NATO guarantees, decisiveness on Russia

  • 2021-06-14
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, having arrived in Brussels on Monday to attend a NATO summit, says the Alliance needs a specific plan on ways to bolster its regional capabilities in case of a crisis.

He also urged the Alliance to be more decisive in response to Russia's aggressive action.

"I think we need to have to be very clear, united and decisive to the activities of Russia. We should be united in this regard," Nauseda told journalists in Brussels.

He vows to underline regional security issues during the upcoming summit and urged NATO to provide more guarantees to countries in this region.

NATO needs to beef up its collective defense and deterrence and have plans on sending additional forces to the region in case of a crisis, Nauseda said.

"In the current environment, the speed of reaction is critically important. We need to have concrete plans, concrete schemes on how to be aware and responsible and resilient to any kind of actions which could be related to direct military actions, hybrid actions or cyber security actions," the Lithuanian leader said.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said ahead of the summit in Brussels that the Alliance's relations with Russia are now the worst since the end of the Cold War. Tensions between the Kremlin and Western democracies increased following the annexation of Crimea in 2014. NATO deployed international battalions to the Baltic states and Poland in 2017.

Nauseda also warned that Belarus is causing problems in the region as well.

"You can see what is happening in this country. A non-legitimate regime becomes desperate and is ready to threaten even the lives of civil people by hijacking an airplane," the Lithuanian president said, having in mind the forced diversion to and landing of a Ryanair plane en route from Athens to Vilnius in Minsk in late May.

"We see efforts of Russia to swallow this country, to set it as a platzdarm for further activities of Russia because Belarus is losing the last elements of its independence," he said.

It will be the first NATO summit for US President Joe Biden who is scheduled to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva later this week.

Nauseda expects that Biden "will send very clear messages about the decisiveness and unity of NATO and will react with very clear messages to what has been happening recently. We cannot go to having closer contact with Russia until Russia changes its pattern of behavior," the Lithuanian president said.

He also said Lithuania stand ready to host a NATO summit in 2023.