“Moment of 1938”: Lithuanian Prime Minister warns about Russian soldiers in Belarus | Lithuania

The security landscape of the Baltic States and Eastern Europe may change forever if the Russian troops stationed at the Ukrainian border begin to integrate with the Belarusian troops, the Prime Minister of Lithuania said.

“For our generation, this is the moment of 1938,” said Ingrida Šimonytė in an interview. “Neutrality helps the oppressor, not the victim.”

Šimonytė, who will meet with Boris Johnson on Tuesday, is one of the European politicians most willing to defend democracy and expose the methods of autocracy.

Her stance has put her country of just 2.8 million people on the frontlines of ideological conflict not only with Russia but also China.

Belarus threatens to block the export of potash to its country, and China has punished Lithuania for this Opening of Taiwan representative office Cutting trade in Vilnius and pressuring companies to withdraw from Lithuania. The UK joined Lithuania in getting China into the WTO because of its behaviour.

Šimonytė said that the two threats of superpowers showed that it is necessary for the West not to fall into self-doubt, internal division and self-satisfaction. “The first response is not to be afraid, but to speak up,” she said. “We never see the masses in the streets demanding more autocracy.

The 47-year-old man argued that the mobilization of the Russian army Belarus may change the security environment in its region, which was due to the political weakness of the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko.

“After the elections and demonstrations in 2020 in Belarus in August, Lukashenka has no chance to do anything now,” she said. “Before that, he flirted with the EU by releasing some prisoners for money. He used to play this double strategy, but he can’t do it anymore. No one considers it legal in Belarus. He needs money and Russian help to survive. He depends on them.

“This current increase in Russian forces in Belarus is unplanned. in 2021 Russian military exercises took place. If these military exercises mean that weaponry and troops will remain on Belarusian soil indefinitely, this fundamentally changes the calculus.

“This will mean an increase in NATO’s involvement, and it would not be a provocation, as Moscow claims, but a reaction to what has changed on NATO’s borders.” Now this is an area full of weapons. Russian troops in the south of his country could be moved very quickly. Hybrid attacks are happening. Pipelines are collapsing. Unfortunately, this is how these modes work. There are no red lines they won’t cross.

Last week, Russia sent military equipment to the Brestsky training ground near Brest, Belarus. Photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

Already a another 300 German soldiers are flown to Lithuania. French diplomats claimed on Monday that Vladimir Putin had assured Emmanuel Macron that Russian troops stationed in Belarus would withdraw, but Šimonytė said Putin was pursuing a policy of strategic ambiguity. “What he certainly won’t do is announce his true intentions in advance,” she said.

She showed some caution Macron’s diplomatic mission in Moscow, saying: “I know Putin must have felt very happy because he feels like an important guy. Everyone comes to talk to him, and maybe that’s one of his motivations. This discussion should not be based on the question “what can we do to be happy?” o “we are serious now, and when we say that every country has the right to choose its own safety net, we mean it.” When you say “NATO expansion at your expense” it is completely false. The truth is the opposite.”

She dodged a question about whether she thought Germany was acting as an anchor for sanctions, saying it would be “scary” if there were disagreements about what the West sees. “Sometimes decisions take longer in democracies,” she said.

But she did not hide her opposition Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany, saying it increased Europe’s dependence on Russian gas and was a “very significant tool” for the Kremlin.

“While we are close partners with Germany, we have been saying for a very long time not to increase your dependence on Russian gas,” she said. “There are no commercial projects with Putin. Everything can be turned into a geopolitical project.”

Šimonytė questioned whether Germany’s previous belief in changing autocratic regimes through trade still holds. “For a very long time, there was a consensus that if you increase trade, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, then somehow the standard of living will change and perceptions will become more similar. In many cases, this has happened – this happened in Lithuania – but it is not universal. Maybe empires don’t change.

She called on the West to call out the hypocrisy of the Russian oligarchs. “We didn’t notice how these people were taking advantage of our way of life. They like our universities, our hospitals, our banks because they know that in this part of the world there are rules and nobody will take your wealth from them. You can go to court to protect yourself, but at the same time, they are trying in every way to harm our way of life. This is a very dangerous schism.

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