Lithuania says it does not pose threat to Belarus

FILE PHOTO: Lithuanian Minister of Defence Raimundas Karoblis attends a ceremony to welcome the German battalion being deployed to Lithuania in Rukla, Lithuania February 7, 2017. Picture taken February 7, 2017. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins

VILNIUS (Reuters) - NATO member Lithuania said on on Sunday it does not pose a military threat to its neighbour Belarus after Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko accused NATO of massing on his country’s western border.

“The Belarus crisis is a political one, and any allegations by the Belarus leadership about foreign countries’ interference or about threats they pose are an attempt to shift blame and justify its own actions,” Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis said in a statement to Reuters.

All international military training in Lithuania is held according to a long-term schedule, he said.

Lithuania hosted military manoeuvres on Aug. 2-14, which included 1,100 of its own troops and 200 U.S. soldiers and 10 U.S. military helicopters arriving from Poland, a Lithuanian army spokesman said.

No more manoeuvres are scheduled for this month, he added.

Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said Lukashenko’s statement about a military buildup “is a lie” and is meant to create an excuse to call for help from Russia.

The Russian interferrence would “completely ruin country’s independence. Lamentable”, he tweeted.

Reporting by Andrius Sytas; Editing by Philippa Fletcher and Frances Kerry