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EU state’s president slaps down minister over Russia claims

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis should “calm down” and stop warning about a hypothetical Russian attack, President Gitanas Nauseda said

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has urged Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis to “take a seat and calm down,” after the diplomat claimed that Russia will launch an attack on NATO if Ukraine is forced to seek a peace deal with Moscow.

“If Ukraine, as we are seeing, is forced to negotiate, the world, especially parts of it close to Ukraine, must start preparing for another war,” Landsbergis told Lithuania’s ELTA news agency earlier this week. Claiming that this hypothetical war could start “maybe in a few years,” he went on to argue that Russia’s ongoing military modernization “is directed against NATO and against us.”

Asked about Landsbergis’ comments, Nauseda told reporters on Thursday that “over the past few weeks or days, nothing new has emerged that we did not already know.”

“However, then the estimates became more alarming,” he continued, adding that he “would advise the Foreign Minister to just sit down and calm down.”

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FILE PHOTO: Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis
Russia threatens NATO state’s foreign minister with criminal charges

Landsbergis’ suggestion –  that Ukraine may be forced by its Western patrons to negotiate with Russia – has been echoed in Kiev. “Ukraine is concerned by the fact that discussions among certain partners have intensified regarding the need for negotiations…[or] a ceasefire,” Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council Secretary Aleksey Danilov said on Monday, apparently referring to a growing consensus among Western analysts that Russia cannot be defeated on the battlefield, and suggestions from French and German officials that peace talks may be needed at some point in the future.

Since the conflict with Russia broke out last year, Lithuania has spent around 1.4% of its GDP on military, humanitarian, and economic aid to Ukraine, compared to the 0.33% spent by the US. Landsbergis is one of the most vocal of Kiev’s foreign supporters, and has called on other NATO countries to give “everything we have” to the Ukrainian military.

Furthermore, he has threatened Lithuanian entertainers with reprisals for performing in Russia, supported an EU-wide ban on all visas for Russians, and reportedly called for “a violent change of government” in Moscow.

Responding to the minister’s call for regime change, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said last month that the Kremlin understands “perfectly well that [Landsbergis and others like him] have long stepped over the line and gone completely beyond any legal framework.”

November 24, 2023 at 12:56AM

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