Lithuania says Russian military help in Belarus would mean 'an invasion'

FILE PHOTO: Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius attends a news conference, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Riga, Latvia May 15, 2020. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Russian military help in Belarus would constitute “an invasion”, Lithuanian foreign affairs minister Linas Linkevicius said on Monday.

“There are no reasons for military support from Russia, and no legal or other grounds for it. It would constitute an invasion into the country and would destroy the last traces of its independence”, Linkevicius told reporters in Vilnius.

“Russia would risk a lot if it did it, in the face of what is going on in Belarus, in the face of the popular support. It should figure out that an invasion would not be justified, neither legally, nor morally, nor politically”, he added.

The Kremlin said on Monday that Russian President Vladimir Putin had told longtime Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko that Moscow was ready to assist Belarus in accordance with a collective military pact if necessary.

He also said external pressure was being applied to the country, although he did not say where from.

Reporting By Andrius Sytas; Editing by Hugh Lawson