2021.06.14 09:41

Lithuanian president leaves for NATO summit amid tensions with Minsk

Augustas Stankevičius, BNS2021.06.14 09:41

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda is attending a NATO summit in Brussels, the first one to involve US President Joe Biden.

Nausėda plans to raise regional security issues amid tensions between the West and Russia and Belarus, according to his statement.

In Monday's meeting, NATO leaders will also discuss challenges to collective security and matters related to enhanced response, the president's press service said.

The summit will be attended by US President Joe Biden for the first time.

The summit will be an opportunity “to strengthen the vital transatlantic bond between Europe and North America and its irreplaceability, ensuring the security of the entire Euro-Atlantic area”, according to the statement.

In order to respond to changes in the geopolitical situation, NATO leaders also plan to discuss the implementation of deterrence and defence and the member states' commitment to collective security.

At the meeting, the leaders will discuss how to strengthen the Alliance’s defence capabilities, the need for more investment in defence.

As part of the NATO 2030 initiative, the leaders will discuss the renewal of NATO Strategic Concept.

Tensions between the West and Minsk have been rising since last year when authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko declared himself winner of the presidential election and then started cracking down on the opposition to his regime.

The relations between the West and Minsk soured further after Belarus forced a Ryanair plane en route from Athens to Vilnius to divert and land in Minsk so that Belarusian services could detain opposition blogger Roman Protasevich and his girlfriend Sofia Sapiega. The incident will also be discussed during the NATO summit.

Allies have deployed international battalions in the Baltic states and Poland since 2017 to deter Russia in response to its actions in Ukraine.

Lithuania also wants guarantees from the Alliance on boosting air and marine defence capabilities.

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