Lithuanian prime minister denies supplying arms to Ukraine

Lithuanian prime minister Butkevicius says parliament not decided on sending arms to Ukraine

Photo by: AA
Photo by: AA

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Lithuanian prime minister Algirdas Butkevicius rejected claims of supplying arms to Ukraine saying the parliament has not made any decision yet.

Lithuania's ambassador to Ukraine Marius Janukonis said on Sunday during an interview in Ukraine’s Channel 5 that “the Lithuanian authorities have the political will to supply weapons to Ukraine.”

"The issue should be discussed at a meeting of the State Defense Council. So far, I haven't heard about plans to hold the meeting anytime soon. No leader can make such a decision without the council's meeting," Butkevicius added.

“Some steps in this direction have already been made and we will continue doing this, including arms deliveries to Ukraine…I see no reason why we should not be doing this.”

Butkevicius refused to answer questions of supplying arms to neighbouring countries.

Countries in the Baltics region have particularly been alert after Russia annexed the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine after Ukraine’s former pro-Russian president Viktor Yanukovych fled a pro-EU uprising last year.

Russia is also accused of supporting separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine who have been fighting for the independence of the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic since Yanukovych’s ouster, leading to heightened tensions between Russia and Western allies in eastern Europe, Scandinavia and the Baltics.

In March, Latvia's Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said that a war of words between Russia and the West could degenerate into something worse, with "devastating" consequences.

Both Russia and NATO have increased their military exercises in the Baltic region since the Ukraine crisis put the two military giants at odds with one another.

The Baltic states have also been increasing their defense budget this year in comparison to last year.

According to a report released last month by Swedish think-tank SIPRI, Lithuania has upped its weapons budget by 50 percent, while Latvia increased its budget by 15 percent.

In March, the US sent 750 military tanks, helicopters, and other heavy equipment, along with nearly 3,000 soldiers to the region to participate in a three-month training exercises in a show of strength against Russia.

The sending of heavy military equipment by the US to Latvia was condemned by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who said the move was not helping the restoration of trust between Russia and NATO.

NATO is bound by a 1997 agreement with Russia which prevents it from stationing permanent troops in Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia.

TRTWorld and agencies