Political scientists weigh in on Georgia reactions

  • 2008-08-25
  • In cooperation with BNS

2002 NATO Summit meeting

VILNIUS - Internationalrelations experts do not have a singular opinion on Russia'sdecision to suspend its cooperation with NATO: some say Lithuaniamust remain calm, others are looking forward to actions from the Lithuanianauthorities.

"First off, NATO said it would have to postponemeetings of the NATO-Russia council. The Alliancethen declared it was recalling some of its military exercises. Russiaescalated and took a step further by declaring there would be no militarycooperation with NATO," Docent at the International Relations andPolitical Sciences Institute of Vilnius University PhD Kestutis Girnius said.

He added that "Russia'sposition is like this: if the West is doing something, we can respondharder."

In the words of the IRPSI's lecturer, Lithuanian politicians should think aboutthe current situation in the country and whether it feels any threat. In caseit does, Girnius believes, "Lithuanian authorities should assign morefunds for defense needs, cooperate closer with other countries, speak with NATOon deployment of some hardware in Lithuania."
Girnius also voiced doubt over the opposition parties' ideas regarding Lithuania's response, for instance, to banRussian military transit through Lithuania's territory. "ShouldLithuania consider banningthe transit, it ought to talk to NATO and its allies to realise what Russia'sreaction might be. Russiawould respond not with military force, but it could cut down gas supply,"the political scientist said.

PhD Ceslovas Laurinavicius, the head of the 20th Century History Department atthe Lithuanian Institute of History was short-spoken on Russia's step: "There'snothing good out of it.".

"Everything is moving towards a regional or even global crisis that canlead to geopolitical changes disfavouring such small states, as ours is,"the historian told BNS.

His estimate of Russia's conduct was similar tothat of Girnius: "The Russians are responding to NATO's meeting thatunilaterally condemned it. That is a provocative step," the historiansaid.

In his words, Lithuaniashould not ostentatiously aggravate its relations with Russia."That is sawing the branch we are sitting on," Laurinavicius said.

An international law specialist, Head of the International and EU LawDepartment of the Law Faculty of Vilnius University Dainius Zalimas said that this is not the firsttime that Russiahas suspended cooperation with NATO.

  "When NATO usedforce against Yugoslavia in1999 in order to put the genocide in Kosovo to an end, Russia also made loud statementsand said it was suspending cooperation, including the activities of the thenNATO-Russia cooperation council," Zalimas said.

On August 21, NATO's representative Carmen Romero said that Russia had declared it was suspending itsmilitary cooperation with Alliancenations until further notice.