Minister of Defence Jüri Luik met in Berlin with German Minister of Defence Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to discuss the developments in Belarus and the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny.
‘By emphasising the threat of NATO, Lukashenko is trying to shift the blame for the domestic crisis on a phantom enemy which doesn't exist and to give Russia an excuse to intervene. At the same time, Lukashenko has embarked on a series of new domestic repressions, which are now directed primarily against protest movement leaders’, Luik said at the meeting.
Both ministers noted that the primary question is how to support the democratic desires of the Belarusian people. At the meeting, the German Minister of Defence said that the question was not whether Belarus should chart a course towards the European Union or not, but how democratic values could be instilled in Belarus.
Regarding the poisoning of Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, Minister of Defence Luik said that this was another sad example of Russia’s disregard for human life and democratic freedoms.
The German Minister of Defence gave an overview of Navalny’s condition, who was transported to a German hospital last Saturday. The Minister of Defence noted that, according to German doctors, it is absolutely certain that Navalny was poisoned and they are currently attempting to identify the toxin. It is not yet possible to assess what the long-term consequences of this might be.
In addition, the ministers of defence discussed broader security questions involving the European Union and NATO, and bilateral cooperation. Minister of Defence Luik thanked Germany for its contribution to the defence of the Baltic Republics and protecting Estonian airspace.
The German Air Force will soon take over from the French in the rotation of the Baltic Air Policing mission, in the framework of which German Eurofighter Typhoons will arrive at Ämari Air Base next week. Germany is also contributing its defence forces to the NATO Battle Group in Lithuania.
EU defence ministers will meet in Berlin today, for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, to discuss EU operations in Africa, the future of EU defence policy and current security issues, in particular the situations in Belarus, Mali and the Mediterranean.
Further information: press[at]kaitseministeerium[dot]ee