The Belarusian authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko is trying to help Russian President Vladimir Putin annex the country, says Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.
“We know what is going on in Belarus. Actually, Lukashenko is playing with Putin and trying, helping Putin to annex the country,” Landsbergis told reporters ahead of an informal meeting of EU foreign ministers in Lisbon.
“So we should send signals to Russia as well that annexation wouldn't go well with Europe,” he added.
In their informal meeting in the Portuguese capital, EU ministers are discussing the bloc's response to last Sunday's forced landing of a passenger flight in Minsk and the arrest of Belarusian opposition journalist Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapega.
Landsbergis told reporters he was convinced “Russia knew what was going on in Minsk”, but admitted that he had no evidence to prove it.
Lithuania's top diplomat noted that most European countries did not recognise Lukashenko as Belarus' legitimate president.
“So he is now working to change the Constitution. That would possibly create a single country out of Belarus and Russia. So what word would you use? If that happens, if an illegitimate president unites two countries, signs the Constitution, then, in my opinion, it's Crimea, just on a bigger scale,” he said, referring to Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.