VILNIUS – The Baltic states feel Russia's direct threat and can expect military backup from the United States, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says following US President Joe Biden's conversation with the leaders of Central and Eastern European countries on Thursday.
"As I told the president of the United States of America, the bell tolls not only for Ukraine but also for NATO's whole eastern flank, specifically, the Baltic states feel direct threat as well. Therefore, we agreed that the United States of America's response in the military sense of the word will be adequate. We can expect backup in the military sense, which would let us feel safer," Nauseda told a press conference on Friday.
"We also stated the fact the likelihood of Russia's aggression is very high and there are many signs showing that we might have the worst-case scenario – a military intervention into a sovereign country's territory. We have to do everything together to avoid this worst-case scenario," the president said.
In his words, "we ourselves need to do everything" to avoid additional challenges to the security of Lithuania and the region.
During the conversation with Biden, the Lithuanian president also stressed the importance of unity of NATO partners in the face of military threats from Russia.
"I also pointed out the importance of demonstrating unity under these circumstances and that "about us without us" is out of the question. I repeated several times: one cannot discuss the Baltic states or other NATO members without their involvement. Therefore, the most appropriate and the most transparent format ensuring the highest level of mutual trust is the NATO format. And we definitely plan to actively work within this format," Nauseda said.
In his words, deterrence is the best measure to make sure "the rights of independent states are respected", and Biden "is taking the right leadership and is pooling all of us to give a very clear response and send a clear message to aggressive regimes that such actions will not be left without any response.
"The response would be the strongest, as the president said, if the political architecture of the whole Europe and even Europe changed considerably, and the nature of sanctions would be the strongest," the Lithuanian president said.
Biden is holding conversations with NATO partners in Europe, as will as with Ukraine, amid the West's growing concern Russia's planning a large-scale invasion of Ukraine whose part, the Crimea peninsula, it annexed in 2014.