VILNIUS – Russia is seeking total control over its neighbors, Kestutis Budrys, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda's chief national security advisor, said on Friday.
Commenting on Lithuanian intelligence bodies' latest annual national threat assessment report, Budrys said that authoritarian regimes last year mustered the strength for what is happening now.
"What we saw in 2021 was a prelude to the current processes," he told reporters. "Authoritarian states are tightening their grip on their societies and attacking the free world, seeking a new order around the globe."
The advisor doubts that needs new territories, saying that it is more interested in control.
Belarus, whose authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko is fully controlled by the Kremlin, is a good example of this, according to Budrys.
"[Russia] moved in forces and pulled them out when it wanted to. All we saw were Lukashenko's usual excuses and absurd stories about what was going on there and why," he said.
Russia probably wants to have such total control over neighboring Ukraine as well, "but it sees that there is no other way to do it than by such brutal military means", according to Budrys.
In their annual national threat assessment report published on Friday, Lithuania's intelligence agencies said that Russia wants to increase its influence over Belarus and that their military integration is growing, but "political integration of the countries is not envisaged in the near term".
The report, which includes an overview of the military threats posed by Russia and Belarus, was prepared before the Kremlin launched its invasion of Ukraine in late February.
Budrys also emphasized China's effort "to change the established order in various areas, including the digital sphere, by regulating the global exchange of data, Internet freedoms, etc.".