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Lithuanian PM: It is time of war, but we continue living as if it were time of peace

“Europe’s freedom today depends on Ukrainians who are holding the line. It is our joint responsibility to give Ukraine tools to win,” Ingrida Šimonytė said.
Lithuania’s Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė. ELTA / Marius Morkevičius
Lithuanian PM: It is time of war, but we continue living as if it were time of peace

In a forceful speech at the 2024 Baltic Military Conference, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė issued a rallying cry for Western nations to significantly ramp up military support for Ukraine to defeat Russia, stating “we need a mindset which is not afraid of containing Russia, not afraid of Russia’s defeat.”

Šimonytė lamented that over a year into Russia’s full-scale invasion, some NATO allies are still falling short on defense spending commitments and hesitating to provide Kyiv with all the weaponry it requires.

“At times, these days more than often, it crosses my mind that we, Europeans, currently live in a quite paradoxical reality. It is time of war, but we continue living as if it were the time of peace,” she said.

The Prime Minister warned starkly that “the European continent might fall into a permanent cycle of wars and frozen conflicts, if we are to think that Russia’s war against Ukraine somehow will end itself.” She underscored from Lithuania’s own experience that “whatever words are spoken, whatever agreements are signed, this aggressor won’t stop…until he is stopped.”

Šimonytė argued the fate of European and global security hinges on Ukraine prevailing against Moscow’s revanchist aims.

“The outcome of Russia’s war against Ukraine will shape not only Euro-Atlantic but also global security order. Democracies will not be safe in a world where a country with imperialist ambitions threatens its neighbors.”

She called for urgently increasing aid to Ukraine, stating

“Europe’s freedom today depends on Ukrainians who are holding the line. It is our joint responsibility to give Ukraine tools to win. It is the least we can and must do.”

The Prime Minister stressed that “sustainable peace on our continent is possible only if NATO remains united and strong.” Crediting US leadership as “the most credible deterrent against Russia,” she emphasized the need to “do everything possible to keep the transatlantic link ever stronger.”

Lithuania itself is significantly boosting its defense budget to meet the challenges, with plans to spend nearly 3% of GDP in the coming years and hosting an incoming German brigade by 2027.

Šimonytė also advocated deepening partnerships with Indo-Pacific democracies “that share our democratic values” to uphold the rules-based international order threatened by “rising and more cooperative dictatorships.”

She expressed confidence that united democratic nations can prevail, saying “Democracies may be slow to change their policies in the beginning, but they have a unique ability to learn from mistakes, adapt and reinvent themselves on the go.”

The Prime Minister urged concrete action at the upcoming NATO Summit in Washington to enhance deterrence and move Ukraine closer to membership, declaring “there can only be insufficient and weak decisions” in facing revanchist powers like Russia.

Šimonytė was sharply critical of rhetoric downplaying Russia’s aggression, saying “Far too often, we create parallel reality that prevents us from addressing the problems heads-on. Far too often, we draw red lines for ourselves, allowing the aggressor to know our next move and prepare, retain the initiative, and continue its aggression.”

Šimonytė urged concrete results at the upcoming NATO Summit in Washington, stating “In the time of war, every NATO Summit must bring concrete deliverables that enhance the security for our people.” She pushed for fully resourcing new defense plans, giving SACEUR more authority to react to threats, and bringing Ukraine closer to NATO membership despite the war, saying “being frozen on the steps made in Vilnius should not be an option.”

Throughout the past year, Lithuania has demonstrated unwavering support for Ukraine amidst its ongoing war with Russia. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda pledged an additional $200 million in military assistance, including armored command post vehicles, ammunition, generators, and M577 armored personnel carriers​​. The support package also entails training Ukrainian soldiers and cooperation in the defense industry, as well as efforts to form a “demining coalition” to aid Ukraine in clearing landmines​​.

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