VILNIUS (Reuters) – Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda said on Thursday that Russia had massed 45,000 troops in Belarus and that their presence threatened the Baltic states and Poland.
The joint Russian-Belarus military exercises near Belarus’ border with Ukraine are scheduled to conclude on Sunday.
Tensions between Moscow and NATO capitals have risen after weeks of accusations by the United States that Russia has deployed up to 150,000 troops near Ukraine’s borders for its invasion. Moscow accuses the West of hysteria and denies its desire to invade.
“They have amassed 45,000 soldiers, a lot of military equipment, and air force. We don’t hear very clearly about very frank promises that this will be transferred to Russian soil after the military exercises are over. This is another way to maintain tension,” Nosida said in a video statement after a meeting of EU leaders. in Brussels.
“This creates more potential threats now, the Baltic states and Poland,” he added.
The Baltic states – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia – as well as Poland are members of the European Union and NATO.
The head of the alliance’s military committee said on Feb. 7 that NATO is looking to increase its military presence in the Baltic states and Poland if Russia keeps its forces in Belarus after the exercises.
(Reporting by Andrios Setas in Vilnius; Editing by Grant McCall)
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