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Lithuania should be ready not afraid of Russian action over Kaliningrad, country's FM tells Euronews

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By Efi Koutsokosta
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis speaks with the media as he arrives for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, April 2022.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis speaks with the media as he arrives for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers at NATO headquarters in Brussels, April 2022.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

A top Lithuanian official told Euronews the Baltic country "should not be afraid" but "should be ready" for a possible Russian escalation over the exclave of Kaliningrad.

The territory is part of Russia but is geographically surrounded by Lithuania, Poland and the Baltic Sea.

Russia had warned it could "take action" against Lithuania due to stops on goods transiting through the Baltic country to enter Kaliningrad, in line with EU sanctions against Russia.

Foreign affairs minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told Euronews that he did not expect a standoff over the Russian exclave in an interview on the sidelines of the NATO summit.

"Russia is unhappy about the sanctions...it is understandable the country that was so dependent on the West currently is being cut off now from the supplies that are coming from the West, and it has grievances about this," Landbergis said.

But, he said, "just about 0.7% of traffic is being stopped that was going through the territory of Lithuania" which is not a "big reason" for a standoff.

"We are in consultation with European Commission to look into the ways of whether, you know, there is a way how to offer something, some measures to or to the Russian Federation that would answer such and such and worries.

"But then again, there are other ways how they can transport materials or whatever they need to, to Kaliningrad," he said.

Sweden and Finland joining NATO

Landsbergis, meanwhile, also spoke to Euronews about Finland and Sweden joining NATO, saying he hoped the ratification process would go quickly.

He said the two countries joining NATO would make the Baltics region stronger.

"NATO has proven that it is ready for the challenges of the 21st century and the unblocking and actually issuing an invitation to two new members is a signal not just for the two members and the region but also for the world that NATO's ready to face the challenges," Landsbergis told Euronews.

He said NATO had shown that it is "able to accept, invite, integrate new, new members when they are facing the challenges."

On the deal both countries made with Turkey in exchange for the lifting of its veto, Landbergis said the two countries were "beacons when it comes to human rights."

"I have full confidence that they would not sacrifice the basic principles that they have been so adamant about defending in the previous in previous years," he said.

The resolution of the deadlock for the two Nordic countries is particularly important for Lithuania.

As some diplomats told Euronews in Madrid, their membership could boost the Alliance's presence in the Baltic Sea, which is strategically important.

The Swedish island of Gotland is important for the defence of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.