Landsbergis said this when he was asked after the Vilnius Russia Forum what he thought about Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky's accusations against Russia of carrying out a genocide in the eastern region of Donbas.

"What we see from political statements by Putin and his entourage is that he is attempting to destroy the people," the minister told reporters. "The idea of Ukrainians' existence is unacceptable to him. Hence the terminology of genocide."

"The scope will probably become clearer, it is not known, but sometimes the intent, the attempt, amounts to a crime in itself," he said. "Although there have been more heinous crimes, if the intent is the same, it can be called the same," he added.

According to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, one of the Kremlin's critics, there are signs of genocide.

"In my opinion, genocide is a legal concept. There are signs of genocide. Of course, it is not yet Srebrenica, but it is very close to it," he said.

The Vilnius Russia Forum has been held since 2013. It is co-hosted by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry and the Vilnius-based Center for Eastern Europe Studies.

In his daily televised address, Zelensky said that Moscow's assault on Donbas could leave the entire region "uninhabited" and accused Russia of wanting to turn Eastern Ukrainian cities into ashes.

"All this, including the deportation of our people and the mass killings of civilians, is an obvious policy of genocide pursued by Russia," he said.

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