By Agnes Szucs
BRUSSELS (AA) – The eastern flank of NATO is facing its most dangerous situation in three decades because of the Russian threat and Belarusian attempts to destabilize the region, the president of Lithuania said on Thursday.
“We see the concentration, the reinforcement of Russian military forces along the Ukrainian border, and probably face the most dangerous situation in the last 30 years,” Gitanas Nauseda told reporters on his way to the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels.
He said the leaders will discuss sectoral and economic sanctions against Russia, pointing out that the EU has all the means to prevent the worst-case scenario of a military intervention in Ukraine.
He explained that the migration crisis along the bloc’s borders with Belarus is also on the summit agenda since they know that Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko “will use every opportunity to destabilize [the EU] if the situation is again favorable.”
Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins, whose country also faced a surge of illegal crossings from Belarus, pointed out that the EU was “facing a series of attacks,” including disinformation campaigns and Moscow’s attempts to manipulate energy prices.
He said Russian President Vladimir Putin is “afraid that democracy will make its further march eastward” and “the democratic processes which are happening in Ukraine […] could come to Russia.”
Reiterating the bloc’s position, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is participating in an EU summit for the first time since taking office this month, also expressed support for Ukraine.
“We will emphasize here, once again, that the inviolability of borders is one of the most important foundations of peace in Europe, and that we will do everything together to ensure that this inviolability actually remains,” he asserted.
During the summit, EU leaders are also expected to discuss the future of the bloc’s defense and security policy, rising energy prices, and further measures against the spread of COVID-19, including vaccinations and travel restrictions.