✅ 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
- So, do you believe that the western response to the crisis in Ukraine was inadequate in any way and if so, how?
The recently announced NATO battalions at the Warsaw Summit; is that really enough to defend the Baltic against Russia?
“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.”
If I may, how worried are you and Lithuania in general that there could be an accident or an escalation?
“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.”
And could you see Ukraine joining NATO at any point within the next 20 years?
“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.