Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (C) meets with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda (L) and Polish President Andrzej Duda (R) in Lviv, Ukraine, on January 11, 2023. File Photo by Ukrainian President Press Office/UPI | License Photo
June 25 (UPI) -- Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said Sunday that Belarus has become a "haven for war criminals" after Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko brokered a deal with Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner Group of mercenaries, who had led a rebellion against Russian leadership over the weekend.
"At the State Defense Council today, we took a close look at developments in Russia whose regime is increasingly vulnerable. We also noted that Belarus has become a haven for war criminals," Nausėda said in a statement on Twitter.
"The control of NATO borders and the defense of its eastern flank is most important!"
Belarusian officials told CNN on Sunday that they do not currently know where the mercenary boss is located. Russian regulators have blocked access to the VKontakte social network page for the Concord Group, the catering and consulting company owned by Prigozhin.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in a statement Sunday that he held phone calls with U.S. President Joe Biden as well as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Polish President Andy Duda.
"There are only 15 days left until the NATO summit in Vilnius," Zelensky said ahead of an upcoming meeting of the alliance in Lithuania.
"We are doing everything to make the summit have a real meaning. The content is strong. Positive decisions for Ukraine in Vilnius are the only possible positive decisions for our shared security in Europe and in general in the alliance."
Last year, Zelensky praised the support of neighboring countries -- including Lithuania -- after Ukraine submitted a long-shot application to join NATO.
The presidents of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Poland, Romania and the Slovak Republic said issued their statement of support as they could no longer "stay silent in the face of the blatant violation of international law by the Russian Federation."
"We reiterate our support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We do not recognize and will never recognized Russian attempts to annex any Ukrainian territory," the countries had said.
"We firmly stand behind the 2008 Bucharest NATO Summit decision concerning Ukraine's future membership."
President Joe Biden recently met with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg to discuss stepping up support for Ukraine ahead of the upcoming NATO summit, when Sweden is expected to join the alliance.