UARU
Russia Sometimes Uses ‘Smokescreen’ Dialogue with The West: Lithuanian FM
30 October, 2016
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What You Need To Know:

Lithuania's Foreign Minister argues the Baltic country's only current leverage against Putin's Russia are sanctions. "We're not using anything else. We could use isolation but we don't have the capabilities to do that”

 

✅ Linas Linkevicius: Unfortunately, dialogue is sometimes used by Russia as a smoke screen to continue their activity on the ground which is really not very helpful so we have to realize, we have to distinguish whether it's a partnership or whether it's just a dialogue.

 

✅ Linas Linkevicius: “During the Cold War, it was just conventional confrontation - now more and more, we are speaking about hybrid threats. We have to (make) more effort in order to coordinate our efforts.”

 

✅ Western economic sanctions enacted against Russia in 2014 aimed to deter the Kremlin from further destabilizing the situation in Ukraine. The results have been mixed.

 

FULL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT

REPORTER

- So, do you believe that the western response to the crisis in Ukraine was inadequate in any way and if so, how?

 

LINAS LINKEVIČIUS   

“I think it's not sufficient because we see the result so that's the reason why I think so. But we have to do more, we have to be consistent, we can't give up so to say, although (we) know sometimes is not easy; building consensus is also not easy but we have to continue.” And do you think it's possible to open up a dialogue with Russia under the current regime and, if so, do you think it's worth doing? “Dialogue is taking place and there are many meetings. I would say some leaders are even queueing to visit the Kremlin. What I think - not always productive because channels of communication (and) channels to deliver messages are important. But to make an impression of intensive dialogue (while), at the same time, making no changes on the ground - it's not productive. And unfortunately, dialogue is sometimes used by Russia as a smoke screen to continue their activity on the ground which is really not very helpful so we have to realize, we have to distinguish whether it's a partnership or whether it's just a dialogue. What we would like to achieve (and) what we are aiming for; this still should be sorted out. It's not always taking place but I see that, in the future, there will be (fewer) difficulties because it's becoming a geopolitical challenge it seems like - although it's the free choice of free countries - but not every country considers that as a free choice so we have to defend the right of these free countries to choose.”

 

 

REPORTER

The recently announced NATO battalions at the Warsaw Summit; is that really enough to defend the Baltic against Russia?

 

LINAS LINKEVIČIUS

“You know one battalion will not make a difference, needless to say, but this is part of the system of engagement which is very important. By the way, politically, it's also a multilateral response to this situation. I'm personally very satisfied with the decisions taken at the NATO summit in Wales, and consequently in Warsaw. Now they are being implemented. The station is assessed adequately with all resources; not just the deployment of the battalion but intelligence assets, everything and this is taken seriously; so nobody should doubt that NATO will defend their territories and populations.”

 

REPORTER

If I may, how worried are you and Lithuania in general that there could be an accident or an escalation?

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LINAS LINKEVIČIUS

“There are because it's very important, if some time ago during the Cold War, it was just conventional confrontation - now more and more, we are speaking about hybrid threats , asymmetric threats and we have to review our manuals and have in mind for instance, cyber, having the mind information, war, energy also as leverage to keep pressure; I don't know, these 'green men' or white trucks which were delivering so-called humanitarian assistance. Everything is new and this really good be challenging so we have to (make) more effort in order to coordinate our efforts; to coordinate between centers of excellence; again the EU, NATO, national assets, that's our tasks for the future.”

 

REPORTER

And could you see Ukraine joining NATO at any point within the next 20 years?

 

LINAS LINKEVIČIUS

“I don't know how many years. I can tell you one story when I was the Ambassador to NATO in 1999. My future allies told me that Lithuania will never be a member of NATO; never ever. 'You are fine', 'we like you', 'your country is nice', 'your freedom fight is impressive' but you will never be (part of NATO). So that really answers your questions. So even if somebody doubts or is saying something negative, it shouldn't change the motivation. Reforms are important regardless of everything and time will come; but when the time will come, you have to be ready. If you are not ready when the time will come, (there will be) no-one to blame, just yourself.

 

Hromadske's Josh Kovensky spoke to Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevicius on the sidelines of The Riga Conference 2016.