VILNIUS - The Russian Embassy in Vilnius announced on Friday that Moscow was sending a note formally protesting Lithuania’s alleged actions in supplying Ukraine with weapons and ammunition. But in reaction to the announcement, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius has said that Vilnius is not breaching any international laws by providing assistance to Ukraine and that it will not justify its actions to Russia.
The minister told Elta that he had learnt about the note only from media reports and still has not read the official document.
“This practice of turning the situation inside out and criticising us is no longer very surprising. We do not deny it, we have said repeatedly in the past that we are helping Ukraine in all areas,” Linkevicius told Elta.
Last year, Lithuania publicly announced that it would send certain “elements of weaponry” to Ukraine, without specifying what form these would take; Lithuania is the only EU member state so far to have confirmed they are taking this action. The Russian note of protest stresses that such behaviour is against many rules of the European Union and is a direct breach of Lithuania’s legal obligations regarding arms exports.
According to Linkevicius, the “elements of weaponry” which Lithuania is providing Ukraine with have no material impact on the resolution of the conflict and are more like a solidarity gesture with a country which lacks the necessary capacity to defend itself from aggression.
In another move bound to provoke Russia, Lithuania signed a deal this February with the Ukrainian government for the joint training of Ukrainian, Polish and Lithuanian soldiers in the Polish town of Lublin.
The plans, which will involve the participation of one infantry battalion from each country, are set to come into effect in the spring, with military workshops thrashing out the logistical and technical side, and with the spring parliamentary ession in the Seimas to ratify the plans.
“We expect the battalions to have initial operational capabilities by the end of the Summer,” says Colonel Dalius Polekauskas, who will be managing the training from the Lithuanian side, speaking to The Baltic Times by phone. “It’s no surprise that we want to see cooperation in security in the region. That’s why we hope for full operational capacity of the batallions within 12 months, and joint military exercises by this autumn.”