VILNIUS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says Moscow needs to provide all guarantees that it will move its 45,000 troops and military equipment out of Belarus once the ongoing army drills are completed.
The president also plans to stress the issue during the Munich Security Conference on Friday.
"I also want to speak, and I stressed that today, about the major presence of military equipment and 45,000 troops in Belarus. And those are Russian forces, and we need all guarantees and all promises that these capabilities will be moved out of the Belarusian territory following the military exercises," Nauseda told reporters after an information European Council meeting in Brussels on Thursday.
In his words, the fact that Russia is using Belarus for military purposes is raising "certain new challenges of a military nature".
"Looking from the Russian side, the swallowing of Belarus is raising certain new challenges of a military nature and the fact that the Belarusian territory is no longer the territory of an independent country for the presence of a foreign army is raising major concern," the Lithuanian president said.
"That concern, first of all, has to do with the fact that this territory can be easily used for the redeployment of military capabilities, for example, from the southern to the astern part of Belarus, which would be important for us," he added.
The active phase of the ongoing joint Belarusian-Russian army drills is scheduled to end on February 20.
The drills have caused major concern in the West, stoking fears of Russia's possible invasion of Ukraine.