VILNIUS – Russia's ability to rebuild its forces and pose a real threat to NATO will depend on the course of the war in Ukraine and on how actively the West maintains its support for the country, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has said.
Commenting on the recent political debate that Russia could rebuild its capabilities and attack NATO amid stalling Western military support to Ukraine, he said that in a scenario favorable to Moscow, Russia could be ready to pose a real threat to the Alliance within five years.
"I think this is just a desire to create a debate on a level playing field – nobody has a definitive answer as to when Russia's behavior might change and when it might turn its sights towards NATO. This will depend very much on the scenario of the war in Ukraine. And if Russia continues to fail to break the trend in its favor, they will of course be stuck for a longer period of time and will simply be incapable of fighting on multiple fronts," Nauseda said in an interview with TV3 broadcast on Monday.
According to him, "this could happen" if the West suddenly turns away from Ukraine and stops providing it with the support it needs.
"But the likelihood of such a scenario is very low," the Lithuanian leader stressed.
“We are talking about a period of time during which Russia could, as it imagines, achieve a breakthrough in the war in Ukraine and turn its face towards NATO after mobilizing its resources. And that could be a five-year period".
Lithuanian intelligence projected in the spring that Moscow could do this in the next five to ten years. However, Kestutis Budrys, chief national security adviser to Nauseda, said that if Russia increases its military spending, its capabilities could be restored more quickly.
Recently, Lithuania’s top diplomat Gabrielius Landsbergis has also publicly called for preparing for a scenario where Russia is not stopped in Ukraine and will continue its fight against NATO countries, underlining the need for immediate strategic decisions to bolster the country's security.
Politicians are discussing the idea of universal conscription, as well as the possibility of introducing a separate tax to accelerate the financing of defense.