U.S. troops arrived in Lithuania amid tensions in Belarus, a country that borders Lithuania, developing the Atlantic Resolve mission, which aims to deter Russian aggression in the region, reported Lithuanian media LTR, on Sept. 4.
However, the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense declared that the movement of the army is part of a previous program and was not related to the demonstrations in Belarus.
“These exercises of the U.S. troops in Lithuania were planned in advance and are not associated with any event in the region,” said the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense on Sept. 2, according to LTR.
Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenko said that NATO troops in Poland and Lithuania pose a threat, and that most of the country’s military is prepared for combat.
Lukashenko remained in power in Belarus, after 26 years of domination in the country, through elections that were rejected by the European Union as rigged, and that the nation rejects these election results with peaceful mass demonstrations.
The United States and the European Union criticized the vote and condemned the post-electoral repression in the Eastern European country, which has a population of 9.5 million.
The leader of the Belarusian opposition, Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, has asked, from exile, that the United Nations condemn the violent repression of the government of Lukashenko, according to Radio Free Europe.
Lukashenko’s reaction has been violently repressive, and supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin, which makes one fear an annexation similar to that which occurred in the Crimean Peninsula, in Ukraine, which has caused more than 13,000 deaths since 2014.
So far in Belarus, “At least 10,000 people have been arrested, 600 tortured, 5 killed, and 6 are still missing,” according to the National Union of University Students.
“University professors and school teachers have been filmed both protecting and reporting students to the riot police. Universities and schools that are supposed to be safe and stable learning environments have become places of fear and violence,” said LTR.
Several videos show the arrests and abuses of the police.