Russian President Vladimir Putin said he discussed Belarus’ interest in access to the Baltic Sea in a phone call with his Belarusian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko.
“Only today we spoke with the President of Belarus on this issue. Our Belarusian friends are interested in being in the Baltic Sea, and are interested in developing their port facilities. Putin said during a celebration of a new Russian ferry, which he attended by default.
Belarus is a landlocked country, so it is unclear what practical steps Putin and Russia could take to provide access to the Baltic Sea. However, Russia has a customs union with Belarus and shares a long common border.
NATO members in the Baltic region – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – are among the countries most concerned about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
This week, a Ukrainian government official told CNN that Ukrainian intelligence indicates “Belarus’ willingness, perhaps, to participate directly” in the invasion.
On Monday, a senior US defense official said US officials have not yet seen Belarusian forces “ready to move into Ukraine” or “that they are moving or based in Ukraine,” adding that the forces inside Ukraine are Russian.
“I asked you to provide all possible assistance. This applies to various places, points and structures where our Belarusian friends can meet these options. I will not go into details now, you know about them,” Putin said during his remarks. “It is important not only for Belarus, but also for Us because this is the development of our infrastructure, an increase in the transportation of goods on our coast, for our country. Accordingly, the benefits of Belarus will extend to the Russian economy. We are also interested in this, so I ask you to support all of these initiatives.”
The Russian province of Kaliningrad is located between Poland and Lithuania along the coast of the Baltic Sea.