Lithuanian formin expects de-escalation in region following Biden-Putin summit

  • 2021-06-17
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – The United States imposed its rules of the game on Russia and the Kremlin should take action to reduce tensions in Central and Eastern Europe, Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said after a face-to-face meeting between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Switzerland.

“If this would lead to a more significant de-escalation in general, reduce tensions, that would be good. Now we have to watch whether there will be any actions taken after the meeting,” he told BNS on Thursday.

“We want Russia to stop flexing muscles near Ukraine, that’s the first thing. These small matters would actually show the consequences of that meeting,” he added.

The Lithuanian foreign minister said he would also observe the behavior of Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko after the summit.

“The question is whether Lukashenko will get new commands, or not. If we saw changes in the tone of his rhetoric that would also mean de-escalation,” Landsbergis noted.

US and Russian presidents praised their meeting in Geneva as “constructive” and “positive”, but the two leaders remained at odds over human rights and cybersecurity.

Before the summit, Biden said he would lay down “red lines” to his Russian counterpart. However, Landsbergis noted that he had not heard many details about those issues during the news conferences held by the leaders of the two countries.

“Perhaps that was the goal, not to elaborate specifically,” the minister said.

The US and Russia’s presidents had not talked much in public about the matters of Central and Eastern Europe, he noted.

“On the other hand, it might be good that our matters are being discussed with us, and not with Putin. We will talk with America about our region ourselves,” Landsbergis said.

“No country likes to be talked about behind its back,” he added.

The biggest achievement was that it was “not Putin who led” the dialogue between the United States and Russia, the Lithuanian minister pointed out.

“It weren’t Putin’s rules. America came back and set its rules of the game. As colleagues said, Putin no longer wore his usual ironic smile,” he noted.

Before the summit with Putin, Biden, while on his first trip to Europe as US president, took part in the summits of G7 and NATO. While visiting Brussels, he held a meeting with the leaders of the Baltic countries.