Posts filed under ‘Totalitarian regimes’

On tragedies. Speech by Prof. Vytautas Landsbergis at Conference of the European Friends of Israel

Excellencies, distinguished priests of One God, colleagues parliamentarians, ladies and gentlemen!

Let me share with you some words on tragedies in plural, not only that unique we are commemorating.

Haiti disaster caused by the earthquake is an enormous and terrible human tragedy, which does continue until now.

The tsunami, which passed over Aceha and other Indonesian areas, caused tremendously huge and painful human tragedy, as well.

But what about mass murders in Rwanda, Darfur, East Timor, Kambodja, Chechnya etc.? – there we need another, different definition.

Tragedy for the victims, not for the killers.

What then about the Holodomor or death camps of Nazis and Soviet Bolsheviks, indoctrinated and premeditated for extermination day-by-day of millions of innocents? We need again a different, special definition there for the dark creatures – from the system-builders to physical perpetrators, so similar to humans – but we would abuse the beasts when calling those shaped on two legs by this very word. Wild beasts never behave in such a way. Who could kill the elder, women and children – thousands and millions – only because they were Jewish?

Allow me to say, Ladies and Gentlemen, not so many words of sorrow and sympathy to the victims we are commemorating in solidarity and mourning, as they deserve, today and here, near to Auschwitz. Requiem aeternam. This European camp of death is a particular one, as it was used for real industry of killing and only by one totalitarian power only, not by two replacing each other like it was made in Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen or even Macikai in my native Lithuania. But if we stay on it, one may ask: why do you not look into the future?

Allow me to say more words about the mysteries of the degrading human soul. It may become deadfully significant for our common future. Holocaust of the 20th century was a signal about essential failures of culture, even that called the Western one, but same time also about future disasters which are currently and worldwide coming on.

Did we receive that signal?

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February 1, 2010 at 5:39 pm Leave a comment

Lithuania’s grey cardinal interviewed on relations with US, CIA prison and more

Lithuanian web site Delfi on 12 January published an interview with Albinas Januška, a former state secretary of the Foreign Ministry, former adviser to President Valdas Adamkus and Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas, and signatory to the Lithuanian Independence Act. 

Some commentators call him Lithuania’s grey cardinal and a mastermind behind so called group called the ‘Statesmen’ (Valstybininkai).  This very rear interview with a man who is known for being the main Lithuania’s foreign policy strategist, but his influence in Lithuanian politics was also huge.

The interview is omitted.  Commentator Vladimiras Laučius conducted it.  

Foreign Policy Is Too Personal
(Delfi.lt) About a year ago, current Foreign Minister Vygaudas Ušackas announced his plans to “open new page in relations with Russia.” Have you noticed any changes?

(Januška) Usačkas is talented and brave. Visions and innovations are necessary. There indeed are some new initiatives. But it is important not to make a mistake and not to imagine oneself as the forerunner of a new historical period.

It seemed that the country was mature enough, that it had opened a sufficient number of “new pages,” and that we had the right to expect to have a predictable, stable, but also sharp and expansive foreign policy.

The biggest mistake is that we again chose to have relations with the Kremlin based on the tête-à-tête principle. This is why we are a member of a modern empire – the EU, to speak with Russia as an equal. A powerful rival against an equally powerful rival. The Kremlin’s foreign policy is based on the principle that one has to divide and rule, because when Russia deals with everyone separately, it is stronger. Our current policy helps Russia strengthen its interests.

I would like to remind you that when Adamkus and [former Minister of Foreign Affairs] Petras Vaitiekūnas were in power, they had added to the EU-Russia negotiation mandate some issues that were important to us and other EU countries: Russia’s commitment to observe the requirements defined in the Energy Charter, the possibility to renew the delivery of oil via the Friendship [Druzhba] pipeline.

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January 22, 2010 at 12:07 am Leave a comment

Kremlin’s Strategists Coming to Vilnius

Lituanica would like to represent you with an article published in the Lithuanian daily Lietuvos Zinios on 28 September.

After the controversial conference of historians that was organized in Vilnius over the weekend [26-27 September], there are plans to establish in Lithuania a branch of the Kremlin Strategy Centre, which is located in Moscow. There are no doubts that his new political influence tool will receive not only ideological, but also financial support from Russia.

According to its official website, the Kremlin Strategy Centre was established to provide services in implementing state economic programmes, national projects and “in implementing decisions of the Russian president and government in this area.” The website also says that in Lithuania and in some other countries of the “near abroad” anti-Russian tendencies are fuelled at the state level.

Algirdas Paleckis, the scandalous leader of the Front Party, will head the Lithuanian branch of the Kremlin Strategy Centre. Paleckis said for now he was unable to say exactly how the branch would be financed. Yet, he mentioned that the Russians will be co-partners of the branch. He claimed he did not receive any money from Russia for the conference that was held in Vilnius on Saturday [26 September] – the conference supposedly was organized from the funds of the Front Party, the Socialist Party, and an organization of war veterans. However, one of the Front Party members unofficially told Lietuvos Zinios the party lacked money and suspected the event was organized using Russian money…

Vytautas Landsbergis, a member of the European Parliament, said the centre’s branch in Vilnius will be a clear tool of political influence. “Paleckis will receive allowance and will sacrifice his family’s name for it. They always say this is necessary to improve the ties. Even Lithuania was occupied merely in order to improve social and cultural ties,” the professor told Lietuvos Zinios. According to him, the conference’s participants were sent here in order to deny the fact of the occupation. “Such things do not happen for free or haphazardly. The task was brought from Moscow,” Landsbergis said.

Ceslovas Laurinavicius, the director of the 20th Century Department at the History Institute who was invited to the conference but refused to attend, said the conference was an anti-Lithuanian event. “How can you argue with someone who says Lithuania was not occupied or who says that after the war in Lithuania there was a civil war? It is like saying the US never invaded Vietnam,” the historian said.

Source BBC Monitoring

October 4, 2009 at 10:42 pm 1 comment

Defendant in Medininkai massacre case to be kept in custody in Lithuania till end of October

As the BNS informes the former militiaman of Riga’s Special Purpose Police Squad (OMON) under the Soviet Union’s Interior Ministry will remain in custody in Lithuania until the end of October on suspicions of playing a part in the Medininkai checkpoint massacre.

Sigita Vainauskaite, a Vilnius Regional Court judge, made this ruling on July 27.

This ruling can be appealed to Lithuania’s Court of Appeals.

The decision to extend by three months Mikhailov’s custody term was requested by prosecutor Rolandas Stankevicius, who argued that the accused, who may have committed a felony, is well connected abroad, especially in Russia, and can be expected to try escaping justice.

The judge in Monday’s session also dismissed the former OMON hitman’s request that she resigns from the case over claims of her illegitimate actions.

Vainauskiene ruled that Mikhailov’s accusations have already been covered and answered in previous court hearings.

The defendant felt Vainauskiene shouldn’t be on the panel of judges hearing his case, because of her repeated rulings against his release regardless of protracted court proceedings, which Mikhailov’s defence argues as being overdue. He moreover argued that the judge gave an interview to a journalist working for an Internet news portal before making her ruling and thus violating rules of confidentiality.

Vainauskiene earlier ruled on April 28 to extend Mikhailov’s term of custody for three months. The court then also refused to dismiss the case on the grounds of prescription and release Mikhailov, a decision that was appealed, but also dismissed by the Court of Appeals.

This hasn’t been the first attempt to remove this judge from hearing the Medininkai case. Mikahilov in the end of June tried and failed to get Vainauskiene and Viktoras Dovidaitis removed from the panel of judges.

Charges have been brought against Mikhailov for partaking on July 31 of 1991 in the killing of Lithuanian officers on duty in the Medininkai border control post.

Mikhailov, 40-year-old citizen of Latvia, has for a long time been the only suspect in the said case to be officially charged with suspicion of having partaken in the murder of seven Lithuanian officers. Lithuanian prosecutors in early April also confirmed that official charges have been brought against Alexander Ryzhov who had been in custody in Russia.

Prosecutors say that an investigation with regard to other suspects, also former OMON members – unit chief Cheslav Mlynik and militiamen Andrey Laktyonov and Ryzhov – have been separated and are in process.

On the morning of July 31 1991, Soviet militiamen murdered border guards Antanas Musteikis, Stanislovas Orlavicius, Aras SWAT unit officers Algimantas Juozakas and Mindaugas Balavakas, road police employees Juozas Janonis and Algirdas Kazlauskas with shots to the head.

Police officer Ricardas Rabavicius, who experienced heavy injuries during the attack, died in the hospital Aug. 2. The sole officer who survived the attack was Tomas Sernas, who also experienced heavy injuries at the time of the attack.

Evidence accumulated during the pre-trial investigation leads prosecution to suspect Soviet Union OMON hitmen as being responsible for the crime.

Source BNS

July 27, 2009 at 9:35 pm 2 comments

Online museum to guide visitors through Communist regime crimes

An online Global Museum on Communism is being launched on Tuesday in view of shedding a light on the history of the Soviet regime and the inherent crimes against humanity, and commemorating victims of the regime writes BNS.

The Lithuanian government was among donors that contributed to the project in question, earmarking 15,000 litas (EUR 4,300). The website launch will be webcast on Tuesday evening from the US capital Washington.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vygaudas Usackas says that such projects help the humanity retain the historic memory, loss of which makes “reconciliation impossible.”

“We cannot forget the crimes against the humanity committed by the two largest totalitarian regimes of the 20th century – Fascism and Stalinism. Symbolically, the project is being launched this year, which does not only mark 20 years since the fall of the Berlin wall but also 70 years since the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact,” Usackas told BNS on Tuesday in comment of the project.

Victims of the Communist regime and their families will be invited to register in the website and share their experience. The museum will also feature papers by historians, also film recordings from key historic events.

The project was initiated by a Washington-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, established in December of 1993 by the US Congress in view of immortalizing the memory of those fallen victim to communism and those who fought to resist it.

Project donors include governments of other Eastern European states as well as private foundations and individual contributors.

The Lithuanian government previously allocated funds to the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation back in 2007 for an underway memorial in Washington erected to pay homage to victims of the regime.

June 19, 2009 at 10:38 am Leave a comment

‘Recalling of the anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe mark the beginning of some geopolitical games between US and Russia’

Following the topic of the possible deals between Washington and Russia in regards to Iranian nuclear ambition and the US missile defence systems in Poland and Czech Republic another Lithuanian political scientist expressed his opinion.  Lecture of the  Vilnius University Institute on International Relations and Political Science Tomas Janeliunas was not as positive as another lecture of the same institution Mr Girnius.

Mr Janeliunas told to BNS that the new US administration’s potential move to recall deployment of anti-missile shield elements in the Czech Republic and Poland, namely its significance to Eastern European security is still dim. Russia, on the other hand, should enjoy US’ proposal to lend a helping hand in tackling challenges brought about by Iran’s underway-nuclear programme.

The New York Times wrote that the President Obama handed over a seemingly secret letter to Russian President Medvedev, therein addressing the possibility of swapping the anti-missile defence in Europe for pooling efforts against Iran’s nuclear ambitions.The lecture worried that this would mean that an official confirmation on this info would reveal changes in US foreign policy priorities.

“The move to recall plans for deploying an anti-missile defence shield wouldn’t be of great significance to Eastern Europe. As far as I’m aware and as far as bipartite agreements go, the Polish will be getting missile interceptor systems promised by the US even if there will be no anti-missile shield. However, all lies within details. Should recalling of the anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe mark the beginning of some geopolitical games among super states like the US and Russia, then as far as we’re concerned, this wouldn’t mean anything positive”, the political scientist reasoned.

Forgoing missile defence deployment in Eastern Europe most likely wouldn’t mean that the US is renouncing plans to get equipped with such armament in general, said Janeliunas to BNS. Creating the missile defence system came at too great of a price for it to be completely renounced, and the threats posed by countries like North Korea doesn’t reverse the logic for developing missile defence, he said.

Janeliunas told to BNS that the US administration’s decision to halt deployment of missile defence elements comes as less of a detriment in comparison to that potentially brought about in the short term by Iran’s nuclear program, should it go on unhindered.  “In this sense, it is becoming evident that warranting security in Afghanistan and Iran’s nuclear program are among the foreign policy priorities of the new US administration. US needs allies so as to overcome these problems. The US already has NATO allies in Afghanistan, but the Iran problem is concurrent with Russia”.

US’ proposal to Russia to work hand-in-hand in view of back-pedalling Iran’s nuclear program should come as a compliment, said Janeliunas, as by doing so the US would be acknowledging Russia’s significance in the international arena and its influence when it comes to tackling global security issues.

Janeliunas said that should these proposals prove to be correct, it would be difficult to decide right away whether they are positive in terms of Eastern European security.

Source BNS

March 5, 2009 at 10:02 pm Leave a comment

Obama’s letter to Medvedev on a bid to swap missile defence for curbing of Iran – analysis of the Lithuanian political scientist

The United States’ proposal to give up its missile defence plans in Eastern Europe in return for Russian assistance in curbing Iran’s possible nuclear weapon ambitions gave a headache to Moscow, says Lithuanian political scientist Kestutis Girnius the BNS writes.

In his words, Eastern Europe, the initial planned deployment site of the missile defence system elements, should not worry about fewer US security guarantees.

US daily, the New York Times, said on March 3 that US President Barack Obama had sent an allegedly secret letter to his Russian colleague, Dmitry Medvedev, envisaging a possibility of swapping the missile defence system in Europe for cooperation against Iran’s ambitions to build nuclear weapons.

Girnius, a lecturer at the Vilnius University’s International Relations and Political Science Institute, told BNS that the letter was not likely to be secret, adding that leaking of its content as a conscious and serious move by the United States.

“First of all, I would say that the term “secret” used by the New York Times is a bit imprecise. I believe that many diplomatic letters are secret – we do not know the content of letters of our prime minister or our president. The handing of the letter to Russia by a diplomat does not necessarily mean the secrecy of the content but, instead, underlines that Obama views the letter as very serious and worthy of attention. I would not be surprised to find out that Obama’s people intentionally leaked it in order to put pressure upon Russia,” said Girnius.

In his opinion, the BNS writes, it actually puts pressure upon Moscow to take specific steps in line with its interests to keep the Czech Republic and Poland free of the missile defence system elements – radars and interceptor missiles. Russia has warned to deploy missile systems Iskander in Kaliningrad, a small enclave wedged between Lithuania and Poland – in case Washington does not give up its missile system plans in Europe. Both Lithuania and Poland are members of the EU and NATO.

“Indeed, its an attempt to tell Russia: “Look, we are building the shield because we see a threat in Iran. If you help us eliminate the threat, there will be no missile defence system and no threat to you. If you rare really worried about missile defence, do not threaten to deploy Iskander but join the efforts to put a check on Iran’s intentions of creating nuclear weapon. If you don’t take the steps, it will mean you are engaged in propaganda.” I believe it is not indulgence but statement of logical positions. They are pressuring Russia to respond properly,” Girnius told BNS.

In his words, as BNS wrote, the goal of the missile defence system is to protect Europe and the United States against possible missiles from Iran, therefore, the debates to give up the deployment plans, with Russia’s assistance against Iran, do not mean sacrificing or swapping Eastern Europe’s security interests.

“The decision not to build the shield would mean sacrificing Eastern Europe’s interests only if it was originally aimed against Russia, while America has always said this was not the case. Nevertheless, Eastern Europe may not like such wayward opinions as making them look as fools. By holding talks with the United States and agreeing, administrations of the Czech Republic and Poland sacrificed part of their political capital and electorate,” the political scientist argued.

In his opinion, the “hawks” in Eastern Europe may attempt to claim that such changes of plans of the United States undermined security guarantees, however, the main security guarantees remain, just as the US and NATO promises and commitments to protect.

BNS continues, friendlier communication between Russia and the United States, lower tensions between the East and the West without any indulgence to Moscow, in Girnius’ words, better answers the interests of Lithuania. In his opinion, the discussions to give up the missile defence system plans did not mean indulgence to Russia.

“If I were in the shoes of Eastern Europeans, I would not be concerned – absence of the shield means no additional target for Russians, and if the shield is there its operation and reliability will not be clear. (…) Giving up a very costly and not necessarily an efficient weapon is a smart thing to do. (…) I see this move of Obama as more constructive, as compared with the earlier US administration,” said Girnius.

In his words, the changed US plans would be a puzzle to Russia, which may procrastinate its reply.

“To my view, such proposal to Russia is a clearly bigger headache. I believe the shield was a perfect tool for slapping America and saying: “Look how aggressive it is, it ignores our interests and does not allow creation of a unified Europe.” (..) I’m almost certain that Russia will procrastinate (its response) and try to get more. We will see how much patience the US will show. Much will depend on the developments in Iran,” Girnius told BNS.

BNS

March 3, 2009 at 8:17 pm 3 comments

Lithuanian Def Min: If Financing for Military Reduced Further, Lithuanian Will Be Incapable of Being NATO member

A Lithuanian weekly magazine Veidas on 23 February has published an interview with a first female Defence Minister Rasa Jukneviciene in Lithuania’s history.  The interview came out on the day after the first hundred days of the 14th Government.

[Veidas] Is it true that you are trying to force Povilas Malakauskas, director of the State Security Department (VSD), to resign?

[Jukneviciene] Ask Lietuvos Rytas. They seem to be better informed about my activities than I am, because I do not know anything about this; I have not spoken to anyone about this. I read about this during my visit in the US, where I had a meeting with Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

On the other hand, there are attempts to link certain persons with the efforts by the Seimas [parliament] National Security and Defence Committee to reform the overseeing of special services and to implement a control mechanism. This, however, will be done, and it does not matter who is heading the VSD – Mr Smith, Mr Doe, or Mr Malakauskas. This is the Seimas’ prerogative – to fix past mistakes and to create a mechanism for controlling special services, which can be found in all NATO countries. By the way, this control mechanism will also affect the Defence Ministry’s Second Operations Department, which is directly subordinate to me.

[Veidas] You were the first NATO defence minister to meet with the new US defence secretary – Mr Gates. Was this a coincidence or a political gesture from the US’ side?

[Jukneviciene] I do not think this was some sort of a gesture. I think this revealed the US’ view towards Lithuania, not towards a certain person. I clearly felt the US viewed its allies as being very important.

[Veidas] Did Mr Gates want to discuss a specific question related to the military cooperation between the US and Lithuania or did you just discuss general questions, for example, whether Lithuania was planning to withdraw from Afghanistan?

[Jukneviciene] We did not discuss the option of withdrawing from Afghanistan. We talked about strengthening capabilities and about the need to look for ways to solve problems in Afghanistan.

[Veidas] For a while now, there has been talk that, considering its financial capabilities, Lithuania is giving Afghanistan more than it can give.

[Jukneviciene] On the contrary, we are giving too little, compared to the amount that is foreseen for international missions. Up to 10 per cent of the defence spending should be allocated for this. Thus, there are reserves.

[Veidas] We are talking about reconstructing the province of Ghowr, which is too difficult for Lithuania.

[Jukneviciene] The Ghowr Provincial Reconstruction Team is working in two directions: The military, security direction (the Defence Ministry is responsible for this direction) and the civilian direction – fixing the province’s life. It is obvious that in the latter viewpoint Lithuania cannot compete with the big and rich NATO countries.

Politicians are still debating whether Lithuania made the right decision, when it accepted responsibility for the entire province and whether it was a calculated move. An unequivocal answer to this question does not exist. The fact that we are in Ghowr, that we can lead the mission is useful to Lithuania, because the troops gain combat experience.

On the other hand, with Mr Gates we talked about the possibility for other countries to join civilian projects implemented in the province of Ghowr. For example, the continued construction of an airport. The US promised to find money for this so that the project would not be implemented solely from Lithuanian funds.

[Veidas] Recently, there have been sharp discussions related to the use of money intended for Afghanistan’s reconstruction. For example, the Defence Ministry’s Second Department is investigating how over one million US dollars that Lithuanian had transferred “evaporated” from one bank in Afghanistan.

[Jukneviciene] We should not get those things mixed up: That $1.2 million that disappeared was not a result of misuse by Lithuanian troops. It was a problem of the Afghanistan bank. On our part, one could only detect some signs of carelessness, when the money deposit agreement was signed in 2007 with that bank, which at the time did not seem to have any problems. Afghanistan’s officials even sent us a letter stating that other countries that were part of the international force for stabilizing Afghanistan were keeping their money in that bank, too. Now it is being investigated whether the letter was forged, because later the bank started having problems with Afghanistan’s law enforcement agencies.

Today, the Lithuanian military does not have any dealings with this bank. I hope we will manage to get that money back in one form or another. From that account we will transfer money to local companies for works that have not been completed yet.

[Veidas] Why then was the military’s logistics chief replaced so quickly?

[Jukneviciene] This is another matter – concluding contracts with certain Afghani companies that were obligated to do certain works. Using surveys, companies were selected. Later, however, it turned out those companies were nontransparent, and today our auditors view them as unreliable. I signed a decree that there will be no new contracts with those companies. Because of this, Lieutenant Colonel Giedrius Vasiliauskas lost his job last summer.

The most important thing today is to make sure everything is transparent in the logistics department.

[Veidas] Was the Defence Ministry involved in the Foreign Ministry’s “democracy spreading” projects, which now are investigated by a Seimas committee and the new leadership of the Foreign Ministry?

[Jukneviciene] Well, they denied the reports about the alleged planting of an oak park in the province of Ghowr.

However, it is good that there is control, that things are reviewed. If it is necessary, our ministry will cooperate with the investigators in every way; we will present all documents, including classified documents.

[Veidas] Yet, it is apparent that recently the Defence Ministry has been buying equipment that is not the most important for the country’s defence – minesweeper ships, cargo plane, and armoured trucks.

[Jukneviciene] The previous government made those decisions. The previous Seimas also approved the military capability plans. They thought purchasing minesweepers and cargo planes was a priority.

Our government would not see purchasing minesweepers as a priority and would strengthen other forces. On the other hand, sooner or later Lithuania would have been forced to purchase the minesweepers, because Lithuania is obligated to participate in the joint Baltic Sea mine clearing fleet; those plans have been coordinated with NATO.

[Veidas] All military branches had purchase projects. The navy, however, managed to present its demands clearly and to organize a competition. Meanwhile, projects for purchasing armoured vehicles or helicopters still have not been prepared.

[Jukneviciene] I can only confirm that the issue of priorities is very important. This year, which is a “year of drought” (just as the next year will be), we cannot even dream about any additional purchases. However, it is an excellent opportunity for quiet contemplation and planning; we can set purchasing priorities for the future, when the financing for the Defence Ministry is normal again. Priority will be given to anti-airplane and anti-tank defence.

[Baciulis] The Defence Ministry was already forced to reduce its budget by 150 million litas, but it is estimated the ministry will have to save another 100 million litas.

[Jukneviciene] If the financing is reduced further, Lithuanian will be physically incapable of being a NATO member, because it will be unable to participate in joint missions. Next year, Lithuania will have to participate in NATO’ rapid reaction force. One needs a fully operational, mechanized battalion for this. If we do not have one, the rapid reaction project may stop. Today, it is very important to us, because the rapid reaction force will have to ensure defence of the NATO territory. In Krakow we will talk about this with our colleagues from other NATO countries.

[Veidas] Is it possible that after reducing defence spending we will be unable to finance the new professional military, because six months from now we will give up the draft system?

[Jukneviciene] We are witnessing the results of the hurried switching to the professional army. Additional money is needed to maintain the professional army, while the defence spending had to be reduced. This means that we will hire fewer regular soldiers than we ought to, and the disproportion between the private soldiers and the officers will increase even more

The saddest consequences will be felt by the anti-air defence battalion, which is defending the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, because we will have no one to replace the draftees. We will have to raise the issue whether it is worth defending the airspace above the Ignalina plant, especially considering the fact that since 11 September 2001 there have not been similar incidents in the world. Moreover, today we have the NATO air police mission.

[Veidas] Listening to you, one gets the impression that all the military will be doing in the near future is trying to survive.

[Jukneviciene] This is no secret. This and the next year will be the years of survival for the military. Just as for the entire Lithuania. The most important thing is to retain human resources, although there will be difficult decisions, trying to even out the disproportion between the officers and the privates and sergeants.

Source BBC Monitoring

February 24, 2009 at 9:49 pm Leave a comment

Lithuania’s main daily urges policymakers to boost country’s national security

Russian Tank in GeorgiaI would like to present you with the editorial from the largest Lithuania’s daily Lietuvos Rytas August 28.  If anyone would like to accuse the daily of Russo phobia I would like to remind you that this article appeared before the Finish foreign minister expressed his wish for Finland to join NATO.  The Swedes are also opened a discussion on further strengthening their relationship with this military alliance.  Could you accuse Finland and in this case Sweden of unfounded phobias?  Here we go…

The images of Russian tanks rolling through Lithuania are a thing of the past. Fifteen years ago, on 31 August, the last Russian soldier left Lithuania.

It seemed like the occupation army would stay in the depths of history forever. Yet, in the beginning of August of this year, Russian tanks stormed into Georgia and resurrected those images. It seems like it was harder to believe the Russians would leave 15 years ago than it is to believe they could comeback today.

A month ago such statements would have sounded like paranoia. Lithuania joined NATO four years ago, and we firmly believed we would always be safe from Russian storms under the NATO umbrella.

The only time the clear sky of Lithuanian optimism soured was in 2005, when a Russian jet SU-27 crashed in Lithuania, and Air Force Chief Jonas Marcinkus suspiciously flirted with Russian officers who came to investigate the incident.

The Russian aggression against Georgia has forced even the biggest optimists to stop and think. Even though Georgia is not a NATO member, its ties to the alliance and the US sort of said Tbilisi would be safe.

The Russians, who needed merely a few days to occupy Gori, Poti, and other Georgian cities and who burned and robbed those cities, showed they could not care less about NATO. Even the US was only able to condemn, urge, and express regret.

True, some tend to diminish the Kremlin’s war against Georgia by saying one should not make any conclusions about Russia’s intentions, because the seeds of the conflict in the region had been sown a long time ago and there was no other solution.

Yet, now we have heard this question: Who can be Russia’s next victim, which unscrupulously “defends” the interests of its citizens abroad, – Moldova, Ukraine, or the Baltic states?

It is possible the fear may be exaggerated, but a precedent has been created. After all, Hitler did not attack Poland right away. At first he had examined the West’s reaction with the Austrian Anschluss, the Czechoslovakian occupation, starting in the Sudetes.

Russia already recognized South Ossetia’s and Abkhazia’s “independence” and entrenched the aggression’s consequences, and we know that one’s appetite grows as one is swallowing foreign lands.

International law expert Dainius Zalimas said Russia’s growing political, economic, and military pressure was a threat to Lithuania’s security. He also said Lithuania ought to re-examine its national security strategy.

Only the Conservatives [TS-LKD] and the Social Democrats [LSDP] reacted to the Russian aggression. Meanwhile, in August (what a coincidence!) 31 MPs launched an attack against the country’s NATO membership [the Constitutional Court was asked to explain whether presence of NATO troops in Lithuania would be constitutional].

Our neighbours got rid of the false sense of security already. In Latvia, they immediately called an urgent meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the national security strategy.

The Latvian media announced that NATO started preparing a defence plan for the Baltic states. NATO has not confirmed this.

Yet, here is what became clear: The alliance still does not have such a defence plan. Not the best news, when one is hearing reports from Georgia, where the Russian Army is digging more and more trenches.

Fred Kagan, an influential American military analyst, admitted that “NATO contributed very little to the development of the Baltic states.”

Kagan urged NATO to increase security of the Baltic states, because Moscow could be tempted to attack them: “I think Russia has plans regarding the Baltic states and has created a precedent in Georgia, thinking it could use force to defend the Russian minority abroad.”

According to the analyst, only more serious work by NATO would reduce Russia’s desire to attack Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania. For example, deploying antimissile and antitank systems.

We continue repeating the fifth article of the NATO treaty, as if it was a mantra: “An armed attack against one or more of the members in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all, and other members will take action that they deem necessary, including the use of armed force.”

Does this mean, however, that NATO allies will send their divisions to defend Vilnius? Who could answer this question with a firm “yes” now?

As Polish Foreign Minister Sikorski accurately noted, “documents and agreements are good, of course, but Poland’s history is full of examples of situations in which Poland was forced to fight alone, because allies had abandoned us.” After Russia attacked Georgia, Warsaw immediately agreed to deploy US missiles-destroyers in its territory.

There is nothing similar in Lithuania. It is also hard to say how determined is NATO to change its position on Russia.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who visited Tallinn and Vilnius on 26 August, also realized that Western Europe’s reserved stance in the face of the Russian aggression worries the Baltic states. In Tallinn, the chancellor tried to be consoling by saying NATO would defend Estonia, and it would not be “formal defence.”

Sikorski’s statement, however, is not a mere metaphor; therefore, strategists of Lithuania’s defence policy should not rely merely on agreements and a few NATO jets in Zokniai [airport].

The relative peace we enjoyed for fifteen years after the occupants’ departure has ended. Today, as the Kremlin is showing its growing imperial fangs, we need much more to ensure the country’s security. The government, military officials, and diplomats are responsible for determining what concrete steps must be taken.

Source: BBC Monitoring

September 1, 2008 at 3:49 pm 1 comment

Conflict in Caucasus, the Olympics, strange coincidences and August in the modern Russian history

It appears that a new war in Caucasus began.  The news is still coming in as I write.  However, there are very peculiar coincidences.  Quite a lot of major catastrophes, around Russia started during the major events in the world.

Well, lets start from 1956, the Red Army crushes the Hungarian revolution only few days apart from the Sues Crises.  The same army invades Afghanistan in 1979 during festivity time in the West, on Christmas.

In January of 1991 the Soviet troops attempting to crash the Lithuanian surge for independence almost simultaneously with the Operation Desert Storm in the Gulf.  Here we go again, the Russian controlled South Ossetia is participating in the War with Georgia on the day of the Opening of the Beijing Olympics.

Is it coincidence?  All of those conflicts have very peculiar coincidence, in all of those events Russia took part in one or another form.

One more coincidence, many events, which shock the modern Russia took in August.  1991, August 19, the Putsch in Moscow, and the collapse of the USSR, 1998 the Russian financial crises begun, August 7 1999 the short war in Russian Caucasus, August 12, 2000 the sub Kursk-141 dramatically sinks.

Then August 24 2004 two airliners in Russia, carrying a total of 89 passengers, and just in few days later the Beslan strategy.  Then the death of the writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn just few days ago.  Is this the last disastrous event in Russia this August?  It looks that not…

The Russian TV channel ‘Russia Today’ starting its news bulletins with THE WAR, showing documentaries on horrible Georgians and a villain Saakashvilli as those documentaries were prepared some time in advance. Medvedev just declared: Russia will not tolerate deaths of its compatriots. Just now (1415 LT time) the same TV channel just announce that the Russian troops have been seen in South Ossetia… Is this also a coincidence?

August 8, 2008 at 2:25 pm 8 comments

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