A senior Belarusian official, known for the country’s close ties with Russia and President Vladimir Putin, recently hinted at the possibility of launching an assault on Lithuania, its northwest neighbor and a NATO member.
Historically, after its time as part of the Soviet Union, Belarus has been a loyal supporter of Russia. The country is part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), which is seen as a counter to NATO and has supported Russia during its extended engagement in Ukraine. Although Belarus has not directly committed troops to the conflict in Ukraine, it has permitted Russian military operations within its borders.
This information surfaced when Pavel Muraveiko, the First Deputy State Secretary of the Belarusian Security Council, spoke at a seminar in Minsk. As revealed by the Evening Minsk newspaper, his speech focused on the escalating tensions between Belarus and Lithuania, which has been a NATO member since 2004.
Recent actions by Lithuania, as detailed in a Ukrainska Pravda report, indicate that they have initiated travel restrictions against Belarus, including closing some border points and discontinuing tourist visas for Belarusians. Notably, Lithuania is the primary route from Belarus to Russia’s Kaliningrad Oblast, which borders the Baltic Sea and is flanked by Poland and Lithuania. Muraveiko argued that due to these transit disruptions, Belarus is justified in considering military intervention.
Muraveiko mentioned, “With Lithuania blocking our cross-border trade, this can be seen as an act of economic aggression according to international standards. Logically, this gives us every reason to use force to establish a crucial corridor.”
Upon reaching out, Newsweek received a response from the Lithuanian government’s press office about a statement condemning Muraveiko’s aggressive remarks. The statement highlighted, “These comments can be seen as an explicit threat against Lithuania and are completely inappropriate. Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry expects Belarus to clarify the remarks made by its official and reaffirms Lithuania’s commitment to maintaining its security, sovereignty, and borders.”
Given Lithuania’s affiliation with NATO, any military aggression by Belarus could lead to a swift and significant escalation. NATO’s Article 5 asserts that an attack on one member is an attack on all, obliging all members to aid the attacked nation. A similar clause exists in the CSTO pact between Russia and Belarus.