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Senior editor at the Economist, Edward Lucas (photo: YouTube)
The Baltic states should counter Russian 'propaganda' with individual success stories, a senior editor at current affairs magazine Economist Edward Lucas has said.
Lucas was in Kaunas on Thursday to receive an honorary doctorate at Vytautas Magnus University. Making an address at the university, Lucas emphasized that the people of the Baltics much better understand the current process than, for example, countries in Europe's southeast. However, he believes that Lithuanians lack self-confidence, and that Russia uses this weakness to spread its disinformation about Lithuania.
He pointed out that the largest threat to Europe and the whole Western world at the moment is not a direct military conflict, but a Russian hybrid-war - Moscow's efforts to undermine from within the political systems and institutions of the Western world, starting with the financing of political parties and ending with buying off Western media.
According to Lucas, Western media in Russia are not seen as reliable sources of information, while Moscow, on the other hand, is attempting to spread favorable information about Russia through the Western mass media. However, he added that there is no reason to panic.
"There is no reason to panic. Russia is the one which wants you to panic. One of the most important elements in this crisis is causing psychological panic because of poor preparedness in terms of defense. A robber is always tempted most when he sees an open door to a house, just like Russia is very much tempted now by its unsure neighbor," said Lucas.
He also urged Lithuanians to be more vigilant, and actively rebut even the smallest of provocations. As an example he mentioned an incident this past August, when a Russian train from Moscow to Kaliningrad unexpectedly stopped near the Kaunas Hydro-Electric Power Station.
He advised Lithuanians to get accustomed to the notion that "anything can happen", and that they must always be prepared to react accordingly to such surprises - calmly, but at the same time firmly and coordinated, so as not to allow the aggressor the opportunity to use this later to their advantage.
"Russia is spreading just three allegations against its smaller neighbors - they are underdeveloped, fascist and hostile. You must be more active and telling the world about your achievements, and defend yourself from this negative information. The biggest threat to Russia is the success stories of its neighbors," he emphasized.