Vilnius must convince Washington to keep focus on Ukraine – former US official

  • 2023-05-10
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS – Lithuanian politicians have to show US politicians why it is important to support Ukraine, Bill Kristol, former Chief of Staff to US Vice President Dan Quayle, said in Vilnius on Wednesday.

"It's very important for Republicans who traditionally have been in favor of supporting the Baltic states, supporting Lithuania, kind of attached to these countries; it's important for the politicians that are on the center-right, perhaps who can speak to the Republicans, to come to Washington, New York, Chicago and to explain why it's so important to stand with Ukraine," Kristol said. 

"Some Republicans in Washington make arguments that we should focus on Asia and not on Europe. It's very important to fight back against that argument and say, no, the best we can do for Asia is to defeat Putin," he added. 

Some members of the Republican Party, especially its wing supporting former President Donald Trump, are opposed to additional substantial US aid to Kyiv.

Kevin McCarthy, Speaker of the House of Representatives, warned that Republicans would not write a "blank check" for Ukraine if they won back the House majority, but later said that he, as Speaker, would support US efforts against Russia.

Asked about NATO's summit in the Lithuanian capital in July, Kristol said that "it's very important that what comes out from Vilnius is unity among NATO members, unity with Ukraine and the commitment to Ukraine to winning the war first, (...) but also providing real security guarantees going forward". 

"For the reconstruction of Ukraine, let's assume that they will have a successful counter-offensive (...), they will still need security guarantees," he said.

Although a full membership of NATO "is the easiest way to do it", there are also "other ways to do it and other steps along the way to do it", according to the former US official.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that his country understands that it cannot join NATO while still at war with Russia.

"When this war is over and Ukraine restores its territorial integrity and sovereignty, we have to help Ukraine build up military capacities," Jeffrey Gedmin, former president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, told reporters in Vilnius.

 "Credible security guarantees are important for democracy," he noted. 

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said that the Vilnius summit will set out plans for a multi-annual support program for Ukraine.

The summit's agenda will focus on strengthening NATO's collective defense and deterrence and increasing support to Ukraine.

The Allies will discuss defense investment priorities and needs to ensure that NATO remains the strongest defense alliance.