Neighbouring Belarus is trying to escalate tensions by launching unplanned military exercises in the border region, Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis said on Monday.
“I can confirm the information announced yesterday by Belarus about the exercises close to the Lithuanian and Polish borders," the minister said in a statement sent to BNS.
"But we don’t see any military threat from Belarus today. It's an exercise, despite being unplanned, and it involves standard, regular procedures. We are closely watching the military movement in Belarus, checking facts, and are in constant contact with NATO allies, as we have been so far," Karoblis said.
The Belarusian regime is aiming to justify its crackdown against protesters by "developing a narrative about alleged external threats", according to the minister. "Looking at this situation in general, we see the escalating nature of these actions from the Belarusian side."
"Neither Lithuania, nor NATO pose military threat to Belarus. All exercises and any deployment of foreign forces in Lithuania are done for deterrence and defense purposes," he said.
Amid ongoing mass protests in Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko warned about NATO's threat on Sunday, with the country’s Defence Ministry saying drills close to the Lithuanian border would start on Monday.
Read more: Lukashenko calls to strengthen military on EU borders, Lithuania monitoring situation