Ambassador: Russian region to be neutralised if Moscow moves on NATO

    WORLD  29 February 2024 - 00:01

    Newsweek carries an article about Lithuania's ambassador to Sweden who said that Russia's Kaliningrad region will be "neutralized" if Moscow challenges NATO on the Baltic Sea, Caliber.Az reprints the article.

    Lithuania's ambassador to Sweden on February 27 said Russia's Kaliningrad region will be "neutralized" if Moscow challenges NATO on the Baltic Sea.

    Linas Linkevicius, who served as Lithuania's foreign minister and defense minister before he assumed his ambassador position, made the comments on X, formerly Twitter, in a post related to Sweden's accession to NATO.

    On February 26, Sweden cleared the last hurdle in its bid to join NATO when Hungary's parliament voted to ratify the country's accession to the military alliance. In order to join NATO, a country needs unanimous support from alliance members, and Hungary was the last holdout to approve Sweden.

    According to Linkevicius, the Baltic Sea has become an "internal NATO sea" after Hungary approved Sweden's accession.

    "After #Sweden was integrated into the Alliance, the Baltic Sea became an internal #NATO sea. If #Russia dares to challenge NATO, Kaliningrad would be 'neutralized' first," Linkevicius wrote on X. "Russia's previous false accusations that it is surrounded by NATO are now becoming a reality."

    Newsweek reached out to the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs via email on February 27 for comment.

    The Russian fleet maintains a base in Kaliningrad, a heavily militarized exclave of Russia and the western-most region of the Russian Federation. The Baltic Sea separates Kaliningrad from Sweden, while the Scottish island of Gotland sits a little more than 186 miles from the exclave's shores.

    As Linkevicius referenced, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been outspoken about his opposition to the expansion of NATO, and cited the possibility of the alliance growing as one of the justifications for his invasion of Ukraine. However, it was the Ukraine war that spurred Finland and Sweden to simultaneously submit letters of application to join NATO in May 2022. Finland became a NATO member in April 2023.

    Lithuania, which joined NATO in 2004, has been an ally of Kyiv throughout Putin's two-year-long invasion of Ukraine, and the Baltic state announced last month that it would provide an aid package worth over $216 million for Ukraine.

    Following the news of Hungary ratifying Sweden's NATO bid, several Lithuanian officials praised the move, including Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, who wrote on X that the newly expanded NATO "will bring more security for Sweden, for the Baltic-Nordic region, and for the whole of NATO and beyond."

    Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda called Monday a "historic day."

    "NATO and the Baltic region now stand stronger than ever before. Allies are united and unwavering in collective commitment to ensure the security and defense of our nations," Nausėda wrote on X. "Welcome to the NATO family, Sweden."

    Caliber.Az

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