Baltics’ move to invoke NATO treaty amid Belarus ban angers Europe

Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, which all border Belarus, are reportedly planning to invoke Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty after Belarus banned most citizens of the three countries from visiting Belarus. The European…

Baltics’ move to invoke NATO treaty amid Belarus ban angers Europe

Poland, Lithuania and Latvia, which all border Belarus, are reportedly planning to invoke Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty after Belarus banned most citizens of the three countries from visiting Belarus. The European Union and NATO joined Poland in expressing their outrage about the ruling, which came as part of President Alexander Lukashenko’s effort to reinforce the legality of his extreme anti-democratic regime.

“Article 4 has been invoked in the past when the defense interests of a NATO member state have been threatened,” Poland’s Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz told a foreign media conference, according to The New York Times. “And today the defense of a NATO member state is threatened by Moscow, by President Lukashenko in Belarus.”

NATO allies have requested that Russia ban its own citizens from traveling to Belarus. A member of the European Parliament, Corina Cretu, was the first to suggest invoking Article 4 after European Council President Donald Tusk publicly denounced the move. “To enact such an embargo on the three Baltic Republics is a failure of the Belarusian government and is completely unacceptable in the 21st century,” she said. “The suspension of external travel will therefore be resisted by all possible means and under all circumstances.”

According to Cretu, the three countries will seek “to remind” NATO that they are subject to its commitment to maintain “defensive” military forces. The current level of NATO troops in the Baltics is just over 6,000, which is close to the maximum permitted.

The Guardian noted that Belarus said it would only allow Polish and Lithuanian citizens to visit, and Belarusian authorities have reportedly broken up “politically motivated” protests in their country.

Another Russian billionaire has arrived in the village of Semenovka, near Belarus’s border with Poland, according to the local mayor Arundiu Kuciak. The mayor of the town of 57,000 inhabitants, Semenovka says: “He’s already here.” His name is none other than Arkady Rotenberg. Sources suggest he is paying under $20,000 a month for a house, complete with a drive, own swimming pool and intensive care unit.

In an interview, Lukashenko vowed to block British investors from buying an oil and gas joint venture that his country has with Britain’s BG Group, which was recently acquired by Royal Dutch Shell.

On Friday, Russia rejected the introduction of sanctions against Belarus as an “international joke.”

Read the full story at The New York Times.

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