Foreign Minister: Belarus regime has de facto surrendered its sovereignty

The attack by Russian forces on Ukraine, some of which attacked from Belarusian territory, has demonstrated that Belarus has de facto lost its sovereignty, leaving Latvia with one long eastern border with an aggressive entity, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said in a virtual press conference Friday.

After condemning Russia's "completely unprovoked attack" Rinkēvičs said the EU had to prepare a third packet of sanctions against both Russia and Belarus "without delay".

"Aggressive actions were also launched from [Belarus], for which Lukashenko is responsible," Rinkēvičs said.

Nevertheless the effect of sanctions is generally felt over the long term, he stressed, and would ultimately mean less money was available for things like the Russian military and would limit Russia's future scope for aggressive actions.

"Ukraine is fighting for us all," he said.


He voiced approval for the shutting down of several Russian TV channels on Latvian territory saying "They cannot be considered part of a free press but an element of hybrid war."

The Minister also called for allies and people in general to adopt a calm and constructive attitude when debating how to react to the situation both at official and personal levels. Public differences would only give encouragement to the Kremlin, he said.

"What I also want to say is that a lot depends not only on the government, but also on society as a whole," he said, referring to a decision by supermarkets to immediately take Russian products off their shelves, which he said could act as an example to people in the arts and cultural spheres. "That sends a much more powerful message than a declaration from this or that government," he said.

"I am not afraid that the Baltic states will be next after Ukraine," he stated, pointing to NATO membership as the key difference, but expressing concerns that other countries near Russia might have less reason for confidence in this regard if Russia was to "get a taste" for invading its neighbors. 

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