VILNIUS – The Euro-Atlantic space is no longer at peace due to the war unleashed by Russia in Ukraine, hence NATO needs to strengthen collective defense, Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas has said on Wednesday as Lithuania marks the 19th anniversary of its membership in NATO.
“The Euro-Atlantic space is not at peace, but the sword and shield of the Alliance stand a strong guard of its members. The decision [the Strategic Concept] adopted last year takes NATO back to its collective defense roots, which significantly boosts Lithuania’s security and reconfirms the importance of NATO membership,” a press release from the Defense Ministry quoted Anusauskas as saying.
“A lot needs to be done before the decision is fully delivered on, still it signifies that the fundamental shift in thinking, strategy and planning has already happened. It is a particularly good sign for Lithuania and the other eastern members of the Alliance,” the minister noted.
Anusauskas said that Lithuania’s nineteenth year as a member of NATO had been marked by Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine.
“The Kremlin’s plans were destroyed by the resolute response of the heroic Ukrainian defenders and their donor countries alike. A number of strategic shifts have taken place in the thinking of individual countries last year,” he stressed.
The minister noted that many red lines had been crossed while the Alliance had responded to Russia’s war in Ukraine by significantly strengthening the deterrence, as well as readiness for defense.
“Russia has suffered a strategic defeat in Ukraine. The wide-ranging international coalition of countries who provide assistance to Ukraine, including our country, are doing everything possible to advance Ukraine’s ultimate victory in this war,” Anusauskas said.
He noted that plans of the Kremlin regime spoke of a decision to pursue a prolonged confrontation with the West, and to restock, expand the military capabilities necessary for its imperialistic goals even at the expense of the basic economic and social needs of the Russian citizens.
“As such, Russia stands as a long-term military threat to NATO and as an existential threat to the eastern flank of it,” the minister stressed.
He also expressed hope that Sweden and Finland would be welcomed as full-fledged NATO members at the upcoming summit of the Alliance in Vilnius.
Lithuania became a full-fledged NATO member on March 29, 2004.