Lithuanian PM calls for swift, reality-based decisions to contain Russia

  • 2023-03-24
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Friday that "swift decisions based on reality" are needed to contain Russia, the aggressor that unleashed war in Ukraine, adding that she expects such decisions to be made at NATO's summit in Vilnius in the summer. 

"We need to be brutally honest and aware that we are living in times of war. This is not crisis management, nor a territorial dispute. Though geographically contained, this is a full-scale war," Simonyte said in her opening speech to the Baltic Military Conference in Vilnius. 

"Our actions must reflect this reality. We need swift and foresightful decisions. Decisions based not on wishful thinking or academic debates but on the reality that the aggressor won't stop unless it is defeated," she said.  

The prime minister said that she expects NATO's Vilnius summit to take decisions that will help curb Russian aggression and bring a sense of security back to NATO countries, and that Ukraine's membership of the Alliance will be given concrete shape.

In her speech, she paid "respect to Ukraine, which is now defending freedom for us all" and expressed her wish that "after Vilnius Summit, we can say with a calm heart that we had the courage to take responsibility, adopt the necessary decisions and leave a better world for the next generation, and not simply shift our problems onto their shoulders". 

The prime minister noted that there is no alternative to Ukraine's victory, but in order to achieve it, it is essential to provide Ukraine with all the assistance it needs without delay. 

"Today I am worried about a fatigue. Not the fatigue of Ukrainian soldiers fighting through the rain of bullets, but the fatigue in Western societies. I am worried about the calls for a compromise or a quick pseudo-peace. We, politicians, should be tireless in explaining our societies that, unfortunately, there are no easy short-cuts to peace," she said. 

Simonyte also said that NATO should now focus more attention and forces on its eastern flank – the Baltic states that are bordering Russia, "currently the most direct threat to Allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area", as well as Belarus, which "has now practically become a part of Russia". 

"In times of war, incremental changes are not enough. Stock-taking summits are not enough," she said, adding that ambitious steps and more investment in beefing up deterrence and forward defense are needed.

The Baltic Military Conference is one of the events in the run-up to the NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11-12.