WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Lithuania’s president said Monday that his country will never accept Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and Moscow’s military pressure on eastern Ukraine, or the Kremlin’s attempts to influence Belarus.
President Gitanas Nauseda was in Warsaw addressing a remote session of Poland’s and Lithuania’s parliaments marking the 230th anniversary of their joint constitution, Europe’s first such written democratic document.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the presidents of Latvia and Estonia — countries on the European Union’s border with Russia and Belarus — were also among the guests at the ceremonies in Warsaw.
“Lithuania will never recognize the illegal annexation of Crimea and will be taking steps toward ending the actual occupation of part of eastern ukraine,” Nauseda said. “Whatever happens, we cannot allow Ukraine to slide back into the past.”
He also said Lithuania backs the freedom drive in neighboring Belarus and will never allow it to be influenced by Moscow.
“There is no room in the Europe of the 21st century for new areas of influence that negate the sovereignty of independent countries,” Nauseda said.
Zelenskyy was due to hold talks with his Polish counterpart, Andrzej Duda, at a time of intensified conflict with Russia and tensions in eastern Ukraine.
Fighting the pandemic is also among the topics to be discussed.
Poland’s 1791 Constitution was intended to strengthen its political system and rule of law and protect it against aggression from neighboring powers, including Russia. Historians say the effort came too late, and failed to avert annexations by the Russian, Prussian and Austrian empires that in 1795 wiped Poland from maps for more than a century.
Poland and neighboring Lithuania were one state at the time of the 18th-century constitution.