2024.04.24

Iran’s unprecedented attack against Israel, the need for de-escalation and an EU response

Mr President, dear colleagues, a few more general remarks. Why did Iran dare to attack Israel directly for the first time in history? I see two reasons: the first is deteriorating situation in Ukraine on the Eastern front and Russia’s factor, the second is the lack of political will and leadership on the Western front, Washington, DC, including. In the eyes of the terrorist alliance of dictators, the US looks weakened. That is the reason why they raise their heads and attack. This is why recent decisions in the US Congress are of existential significance.

The democratic world is entering a period of political vacuum because of presidential elections in the US, European Parliament elections here in Europe. The political vacuum is a test for democracy in general and a temptation for terrorist states. However, it is not those who win this year’s elections who will be mentioned in the history books, but those who fail to defeat the terrorist Russia, Iran, North Korea and others, even though they had every chance.

I still believe that we, the European Union, together with our allies, we can – that our leaders can go down in history as the ones who managed to overcome bloody regimes.

2024.04.23

Make Russia foot the entire bill for Ukraine’s devastation

All Russian frozen assets, not only the profits they generate, should be used to finance the reparations for the war damage inflicted on Ukraine. Rather than relying solely on sanctions, the EU should also consider internationally recognised countermeasures. These are political tools that allow Member States to seize frozen assets that can be used to help rebuild Ukraine.

This is the message the EPP Group wants to convey ahead of today’s plenary debate on the use of Russian frozen assets to support Ukraine’s victory and reconstruction.

“Every day brings new damage to Ukraine, and the amount of damage goes far beyond the €400 billion that Ukraine has documented so far. An innovative and effective mechanism should be put in place in order to allow Ukrainians to rebuild their country. Russia has a legal obligation to fully compensate Ukraine for the damage it has inflicted during the war,” insists Andrius Kubilius MEP, the European Parliament’s spokesman on Russia.

According to the latest estimates, the measures currently under consideration in the EU would only be able to generate around €1.7-3.6 billion, while frozen Russian financial assets in Europe amount to almost €300 billion. This is because the proposed legal mechanism does not allow for the confiscation due to the international principle of legal immunity applicable to state assets

“A political countermeasure would allow to temporarily, until Russia again begins respecting rules of international law, disregard rules on state immunity and to seize frozen assets by means of legislative or executive acts adopted in accordance with national rules. The United States used similar mechanisms against Iranian state funds in 1981 and Iraqi state funds in 1992 to compensate for the damage inflicted on KuwaitThe US administration will now implement this same mechanism following the approval of the US Congress to confiscate 20 billion USD of Russian frozen assets,” explains Kubilius.

“It is time to make a bold decision on countermeasures and to confiscate all the €300 billion of frozen Russian assets. Our governments should put this issue on their agendas, while, the European Commission and European External Action Service should present an overview of the potential countermeasures in the EU and in national legal systems,” adds Kubilius.

International law and United Nations’ recommendations foresee that states may use countermeasures in response to internationally wrongful acts of another state, with the aim to make the aggressor comply with its legal obligations.

 

2024.04.19

A.Kubilius. Lessons From The Second World War For Europe Today

Part I. A lesson from the Victory Plan

The European Parliament, angered by the impotence of EU governments in the matter of military aid to Ukraine, decided to postpone the adoption of the budget report of the Council of the European Union (including the European Council). After an impressive speech by former Belgian Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt, in which he called for the discussion of such an issue to be postponed until the Member States (who are the EU’s decision-makers in the European Council) have agreed on the immediate delivery of at least 7 Patriot systems to Ukraine, there followed stormy applause from the MEPs and the motion was adopted by a large majority.

Indeed, there is sometimes a sense of grim hopelessness when you see one European Union prime minister and president after another calling on everyone else to give more military support to Ukraine, swearing that Russia cannot win, but in reality Ukraine is receiving less and less military support from the EU and the West as a whole, and Russia is intensifying its bombing of Ukraine’s cities and energy infrastructure because it no longer has missiles and drones to defend itself. Meanwhile, according to Mr J.Borrell, the countries of the European Union have at least 100 Patriot systems that they are not currently using because they are not at war with anyone.

The question is how to overcome this powerlessness in the West, when there is an ever-widening gap of hopelessness between the loud declarations of support and the actual provision of support.

To find a way to help the West to understand what needs to be done (and not done) today, the best way would be for everyone to go back to school and learn the history of the Second World War.

In the summer of 1941, even before the December attack on Pearl Harbor and the US decision to go to war against both Japan and Hitler, President Roosevelt realised that preparations for such a war had to begin. By June 1941, although the United States still maintained a policy of non-participation in the war, it was already providing Lend-Lease assistance to Britain and later-on to the Soviet Union. To better coordinate US military aid to a struggling Britain, Churchill sent to Washington the representative of defeated France, the future godfather of the European Community, Jean Monnet, who had a reputation as a good strategic planner in pre-war France. According to the history books, Churchill and Monnet managed to persuade US President F.D. Roosevelt and Commander-in-Chief G. Marshall to begin drawing up a plan for US involvement in the war. G. Marshall responded by appointing Colonel Wedemeyer, who was on the War Planning Board, to work with his staff to draw up such a plan. After three months of intensive work, the Victory Plan was born, with a very precise prediction that the US military priority would be the defeat of Hitler on the European continent. At the same time, it calculated exactly what would be needed to achieve such a victory. The calculations showed that the US would have to mobilise a military force of 8 million (in 1941 the US armed forces were only a few hundred thousand strong), and how and where such a force would be trained, where and when the necessary armaments would be produced, and the fleet needed to transport them to Europe would be built. It was also calculated what armaments would have to be produced in order to provide Britain and the Soviet Union with adequate weapons at the same time.

After all this, it was calculated that the US would be ready to land in France in July 1943. This was the Victory Plan, the plan to defeat Hitler. According to historians, this Victory Plan, which mobilised the army and military industry, was implemented with astonishing precision, except that Churchill persuaded Roosevelt to postpone the landing of US troops in France until the summer of 1944. In an interview in 1980, Wedemeyer argued that this delay was a mistake and that it allowed the Soviets to occupy the whole of Central Europe by the end of the war.

In any case, Hitler was defeated, largely because the US had drawn up a detailed victory plan as early as 1941 and began to implement it consistently and effectively.

The first lesson of the Second World War for the West today is that if victory is to be achieved in Ukraine, there is an urgent need for a Western (or at least a European Union) Ukraine Victory Plan.

Of course, until such a Ukrainian Victory Plan is developed and implemented, the problems of supply of Patriot systems and artillery shells need to be resolved immediately, but Ukraine will not be able to achieve victory if Western military support continues to be so haphazard and dependent on crisis solutions: a little earlier, President Pavel of the Czech Republic (himself not participating in the European Council) took the initiative to resolve the artillery shells crisis, and now a member of the European Parliament, Mr Guy Verhofstadt, has started to look for a solution to the air defence crisis.

What the European Council is doing during such a crisis remains unclear.

What is clear is that both Ukraine and the European Union itself need a European Union Plan for Victory in Ukraine (or Ukraine Victory Plan for short). As the experience of the Second World War shows, such a plan is the only way to Ukraine’s victory and Putin’s crushing; the continuation of the West’s current planless chaos and crisis solutions is the only way to Russia’s victories.

A few months ago I took the initiative to get the EU to start drawing up such a Victory Plan for Ukraine, and I have already succeeded in getting the Congress of the European People’s Party (to which we belong) to adopt a special resolution in which the European People’s Party, the most influential party in the European Union, demanded that the European Union should draw up such a Victory Plan for Ukraine in the near future. Several days ago the EPP Group in the European Parliament also adopted a more detailed position paper  on this issue. It would be good if someone in the European Council finally understood the importance of such a Victory Plan for Ukraine.

Victories will not be achieved by mere verbal courage of Heads of State and other leaders that someone needs to give more support to Ukraine. Victories are achieved only by making the victories happen. Making the victories requires a plan for victory. This is the most important lesson of the Second World War for today’s war.

 

Part II. The five most important lessons of that war

The most important lesson of the Second World War for today is that a Ukrainian victory requires a Ukrainian Victory Plan, developed and implemented in the West.

But this is not the only lesson that today’s West needs to learn immediately from this war. I have already written about some of these lessons, but I have now decided to bring them all together in one text.

Indeed, I cannot help wondering how  so much strong intellectual leadership, the ability to take immediate strategic decisions and implement them effectively, were available at that time, and where it has all gone now.

It is to be hoped, therefore, that the lessons of the Second World War will somehow fill the deficit of leadership and the deficit of strategy  that has become the main feature of Western politics today.

These are the lessons:

 

Lesson 1: 1938: The Munich “peace” agreement with Hitler – the gateway to global war.

Today, when there are calls from all sides to bring Zelensky and Putin to the peace negotiating table, and that Ukraine should “only” sacrifice the occupied territories of Crimea and Donbass (allegedly because they are inhabited by Russian speakers) for the sake of peace, it is worth recalling the historical lessons of the 1938 Munich “Peace Conference” (its official name).

In the “Munich Peace Conference” of 30 September 1938, Adolf Hitler (together with Benito Mussolini) promised to take only the Sudetenland, also inhabited  by Germans, away from Czechoslovakia and to guarantee the security of the new Czechoslovak borders (without the Sudetenland), while the West (Neville Chamberlain and Édouard Daladier), in the name of “peace”, not only gave their blessing to Hitler’s actions, but also undertook actions to persuade the Czechoslovak leadership not to oppose the implementation of such an agreement between the “Great Powers”. The Czechoslovak leadership had no choice but to accept such an agreement about it’s territory and on the security guarantees of all the participants  for its new borders. As we know, in March 1939 Hitler occupied the entire territory of Czechoslovakia and took over all military resources and the powerful Czechoslovak military industry. By September 1939, Czech tanks were rolling through the streets of Warsaw with German troops, and by May 1940, in Paris.

The lesson is simple: negotiating with an aggressor to somehow limit its military aggression is not only a hopeless business, but also a morally very “slippery” one, because it gives the aggressor the impression that its actions are blessed by the “great” democrats of the West. Just like the “peace talks” with Hitler, the “peace talks” with Putin will end in the same way: the gates will be opened for Putin to take over the whole of Ukraine, and with it the powerful potential of Ukrainian industry. In a year or two, tanks made in Kharkiv will be rolling down the same streets of Warsaw under the control of Russian tank drivers.

 

Lesson 2: In the late 1940s, Roosevelt and Churchill begin to build not a “pro-British” coalition, but an “anti-Hitler” coalition.

In late 1940, Churchill began to communicate intensively with F.D. Roosevelt, who had been re-elected for a third term. The foundations were  laid for the formation of an anti-Hitler coalition, although the USA was not yet involved in the war. On 14 August 1941, at the US naval base in Placentia Bay, on Canada’s North Atlantic coast, Churchill and Roosevelt met face to face for the first time since the outbreak of the Second World War. It was there that the Atlantic Charter was born – the founding strategic document of the anti-Hitler coalition’s war plan and future post-war order.

If the West is to have a more consolidated strategy for its actions in this war today, the first thing it needs to achieve is for the “pro-Ukrainian” coalition that now exists in the West, despite its inability to clearly define its objectives, to dare to become an “anti-Putin” coalition. As the Russian opposition analyst Vladislav Inozemtsev, who has written very wisely on the subject, puts it, victory over Adolf Hitler in the Second World War was achieved because the Nazis were fought not by a “pro-British” coalition but by an anti-Hitler coalition which had clearly defined its objectives and which declared in 1943 that it would seek the unconditional defeat of Hitler. So now, too, the democratic Western world must finally dare to join the “anti-Putin” coalition and seek the unconditional overthrow of the Putin regime, at least in Ukraine. The creation of such an “anti-Putin coalition” is a prerequisite for the West finally to have the courage and ability to seek unconditional victory in Ukraine and to invest at least 100 billion euros a year, without which victory will never be achieved.

 

Lesson 3: In the summer of 1941, on Roosevelt’s instructions, Colonel Wedemeyer draws up a precise and detailed Victory Plan for the anti-Hitler coalition.

Why we need a Ukrainian Victory Plan of the same kind today is described in Part I.

 

Lesson 4: January 1943 – Roosevelt and Churchill issue the Casablanca Declaration on the objective of the war: “the unconditional surrender of Hitler”.

In January 1943, at the Casablanca Conference, Roosevelt and Churchill, with the support of the leader of undefeated France, General Charles de Gaulle (in the absence of Joseph Stalin), adopted a declaration that clearly and unequivocally defined the objective of their participation in the war against Hitler. The stated objective left no ambiguity: the members of the Alliance would seek Hitler’s unconditional surrender; there would be no separatist peace negotiations with Hitler; there would be no negotiations with Hitler “for peace and armistice”; and the goal of the war and the definition of victory would be Hitler’s unconditional surrender. The Allies remained united in this position until the end of the war. Why they did so was made very clear publicly by Roosevelt himself at  Casablanca Conference: the only way to ensure a lasting, sustainable peace after the war was to implement a policy of “unconditional surrender”, while the ceasefire negotiations would only bring about a temporary cessation of hostilities (and would not guarantee a lasting peace after the war). The unconditional surrender clause would encourage both the German military and the wider German public to continue to oppose the war. If the Allies succeeded in weakening the foundations of support for Hitler within Germany, and thereby weakening the motivation and fighting spirit of the army itself, it would only be a matter of time before Hitler was finally crushed. President Roosevelt stressed in Casablanca that the West’s goal of Hitler’s unconditional surrender did not mean the destruction of German society, but only the destruction of the Nazi philosophy that prevailed in Germany, a philosophy based on the conquest of other peoples and the subjugation of other nations. History has shown that the clear objectives of the war formulated by F.D. Roosevelt and W. Churchill – only the unconditional surrender of Hitler – were fully justified. This allowed a new Germany to emerge after the war, free of the Nazi philosophy that had been crushed in the war. A lasting peace was thus established in the western part of the European continent. Germany, long the greatest threat to European security, was reborn as a stable democracy after its unconditional surrender and became the locomotive for the peaceful unification of Western Europe.

Today, the main reason why some Western leaders are afraid to give Ukraine more military support is that they fear the crushing of the Russian army and the collapse of the Putin regime, because they fear that this will only make things worse in Russia, either by bringing even bloodier dictators to power, or by bringing about the bloody collapse of Russia and inter-regional power struggles in which it will no longer be clear who will continue to control Russia’s nuclear weapons.

The lesson of the Second World War is clear: do not be afraid to crush the aggressor. Just as after Hitler the way for the rebirth of democratic Germany opened, so Putin’s crushing will open the way for positive change in Russia. And that is the most important condition for lasting peace on the European continent. This requires, above all, a Ukrainian victory and a Ukrainian Victory Plan.

 

Lesson 5. 1944: The Western (victorious) plan for a post-war, defeated Germany (without Hitler): from the Morgenthau Plan to the Marshall Plan

As early as 1944, when the Allies were discussing how to deal with the economy of  defeated Germany, the plan drawn up by US Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau, known as the “Morgenthau Plan”, was adopted, which called for the destruction of German heavy industry and the division of Germany into a number of independent states. This plan was based on the basic premise of Morgenthau himself and his associates that this was the only way to prevent Germany, having recovered economically from the war, from starting World War III ten years later. One of the memoranda endorsing the Morgenthau Plan stated that the military industry in the Ruhr and Saar regions of Germany (the main industrial areas) would have to be destroyed, and that Germany itself would eventually have to be transformed into “a country primarily agricultural and pastoral in character”.

After the war, however, the Americans quickly realised that this plan was completely wrong, as it would condemn the Germans to a long period of poverty and deprivation, which would allow various radicals, including the Communists supported by Stalin, to win the elections. Thus, as early as 1946, the United States and President Harry S. Truman began to realise that the main objective of the US in post-war Europe was to defend the democracies against Stalin’s encroachments, and promptly abandoned the implementation of the Morgenthau Plan and any hint of the destruction of the German economy or its territorial division. On 6 September 1946, US Secretary of State James F. Byrnes made a famous speech in Stuttgart, known by the Germans themselves as the “Speech of Hope”, in which he essentially “buried” the Morgenthau Plan and outlined the prospect of an independent, democratic and economically strong Germany. In 1947, the US announced the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan, the implementation of which was aimed at the economic reconstruction of post-war Europe (including Germany), with the clear geopolitical objective of defending European democracies against the radicalism of a disillusioned electorate and against Stalin’s communist expansion.

This lesson of the Second World War tells us today that if we want more security for ourselves, we should look after democracy in Russia. And that means that one day, after the victory in Ukraine and the crushing of Putin, a democratic Russia will be reborn, with the potential to develop economically and become a strong economy. That is why, today, when we consider how the West should deal with a Russia that has lost the war, we should not be thinking of Morgenthau plans for such a Russia, but of something like a Marshall Plan for a democratic Russia. For this is the only thing that will help to stabilise the revival of democracy in Russia defeated after the war, if such a revival takes place. We have written about this, together with experts from the Western and Russian opposition, in a special text “The EU’s Relations With a Future Democratic Russia: A Strategy” (25 July 2022).

 

******

These are the lessons of the Second World War for today’s European Union.

If you put all these lessons together, you realise that the EU now needs to agree not only on a Ukraine Victory Plan, but also on a broader and longer-term strategy for the transformation of the whole eastern part of the European continent. In other words, we need not only a Ukraine Victory Plan, but also a strategy for the transformation of Russia and Belarus that is closely linked to Ukraine’s victory. We can say that the European Union needs a grand strategy for the transformation of the eastern part of the European continent.

Some time ago, while speaking in the European Parliament, Mr Borrell admitted that before the war against Ukraine, the European Union did not have a strategy for Russia, because the EU was heavily dependent on Russian gas, and at the same time the EU did not have a strategy for Ukraine, because the EU’s strategy for Ukraine was subordinated to the EU’s strategy for Russia.

Mr Borrell believed that the end of the EU’s dependence on Russian gas could lead to the birth of a new EU strategy towards Russia.

It is my conviction that such an EU strategy towards Russia must henceforth be subordinated to the EU strategy towards Ukraine.

And the EU’s strategy towards Ukraine must focus first and foremost on Ukraine’s victory and Russia’s defeat, but it must also include Ukraine’s membership of the EU and NATO, because only this will create a long-term success for Ukraine, and this will be an inspiring example for ordinary Russians. Mr Putin launched the war against Ukraine only because he was afraid that Ukraine might become such a model of success.

The West’s strategy towards Ukraine and Russia must aim both for a victory for Ukraine and for such a victory to be the impetus for positive change in Russia. This is the only way to ensure not only Ukraine’s security, but also the long-term peace and security of the whole of Europe.

It is time to start implementing such a grand strategy for sustainable peace on the European continent.

2024.04.17

Give 0.25% of GDP for Ukraine’s victory

Ukraine must win. Russia must be defeated. Peace must be brought back. Europe must step up its military assistance for Ukraine’s defence. To reach that goal, the EU needs to have a plan for Ukraine’s victory. The Western military support to Ukraine needs to reach 100 billion euros annually. Western democracies should use 0.25% of their GDP for military help for Ukraine. This is what has been called for in a new position paper adopted today by the EPP Group.

The document stresses that only continued transatlantic unity and resolve in the military support for Ukraine can stop the war and deter future Russian aggression. It therefore calls on the EU and NATO to have a clear, collective plan for Ukraine’s victory, with real obligations at the EU and NATO levels to provide long-term uninterrupted military support and with responsibility at the EU level for implementing such a plan within the EU Member States. It estimates that to help Ukraine defeat Russia, EU and NATO support will need to be greater than 0.25% of the combined Western GDP each year. 

“Critical times require bold decisions and leave no room for hesitation. Two years ago, very few believed that Ukraine could prevail and stop the Russians from entering Kyiv. But it happened. Very few also believed that Ukraine’s EU and NATO membership was even possible. However, the recent decisions to open EU accession negotiations and envisage its NATO membership are tangible proof that this is becoming a reality. The broad democratic consensus needs to be maintained when it comes to the military, financial and political support. It will be easier if we understand that Ukraine not only needs us, but we need Ukraine. Both in the EU and in NATO. Ukrainian victory is the guarantee that the EU as a geopolitical project can continue,” says Rasa Juknevičienė MEP, Vice-Chair of the EPP Group in charge of foreign affairs.

“The numbers speak for themselves: despite our economic strength, we haven’t managed to mobilise our economies to the extent necessary for victory. One of the reasons is that our military support comes on individual, voluntary basis from Member States. We must therefore do more and act collectively. Individual decisions by EU member states should be replaced by a collective political will and a genuine EU plan for Ukraine’s victory, covering all its needs, not just ammunition. The plan should also include a commitment to provide Ukraine with €100 billion in annual military assistance from EU and US financial resources, or for each Member State to provide military support to Ukraine at the level of 0.25% of the GDP – this would be enough for Ukraine to prevail,” adds Andrius Kubilius MEP.

2024.04.10

Russia’s undemocratic presidential elections and their illegitimate extension to the occupied territories

Madam President, dear colleagues, Putin is an illegitimate president. I call on the leaders of the democratic world not to call Putin president, because he is certainly not one now.

First of all, because this electoral operation took place in the occupied territories of Ukraine. There have been no democratic elections in Russia for a long time. It was a psychological KGB-type operation against its own citizens first of all.

At the same time, Ukrainians continue to die on the front lines. Their cities are being destroyed every day. On the eve of this special operation, which Putin calls elections, Aleksei Navalny died in a Gulag-like prison in the Arctic. A man whom Putin feared and therefore tortured.

Putin is afraid of real elections because he is afraid of his people. That is why Putin is the biggest Russophobe. Putin is creating a 21st-century totalitarianism in Russia based on hatred, aggression and violence.

But this colonial imperial regime will collapse sooner or later. I once again call on you to stop being afraid of Putin. Let him be afraid of us. We need a strategy and a coalition for victory in Ukraine. But we also need a bold coalition to defeat Putin and his regime; the kind of coalition that was built to defeat Hitler.

2024.03.27

A.Kubilius. Will Lithuania start building an anti-Putin Western coalition to implement Russia’s anti-Putin strategy?

The terrorist attack in outskirts of Moscow on March 22nd has brought back the debate about the future of Russia, what we need to prepare for and what kind of Western policy we should pursue.

We will only know who carried out this act of terror and what it was aimed at after some independent investigations by Belingcat, Insider or Christo Grozev. Until then, we will hear whatever the Kremlin wants to say and whatever confessions it wants to be made to the FSB interrogators, proving the alleged Ukrainian or Western footprint. Although most sources of information claim that this is the work of an ISIS offshoot, intuition tells us that it is unlikely to have been without the FSB’s involvement: the way the terrorists retreated in the same white Renault that they drove to the scene of the terror, and the way in which they were intercepted by the FSB, is more like a tragic “play”, poorly staged by the FSB, rather than a seriously prepared terrorist operation. In any case, the innocent victims are to be pitied, but this is the typical style of the Putin regime: they did not count the casualties in 1999, when the FSB bombed apartment blocks in Moscow. It is not only Lithuanians, who traditionally suspect the Kremlin of everything, but also solid German politicians who are speculating that this could be an FSB operation.

However, today it is worth examining not only who might have organised and carried out such a terrorist act and who might benefit from it, but also what long-term conclusions we need to draw and what kind of Western policy we need to pursue towards Russia.

On this occasion, I have tried to reiterate what I have said time and again: we must seek to finally consolidate an anti-Putin coalition in the West, with a clear anti-Putin strategy, in which the victory of Ukraine and the defeat of Russia must be the top priority.

This time, I have tried to put my thoughts into a coherent 12 points:

– What next: Russia’s trajectory is increasingly desperate and bloody, and heading towards North Korea.

We will see more and more of the Kremlin’s insane internal and external aggression; the Kremlin’s consistent policy is only more blood: bloody persecution of any opposition activity inside Russia and more and more bloody aggression, both against Ukraine and against anyone else outside Russia.

– The threat of export of terrorism from Russia. The threats to Lithuania will only increase. And not just the threat of a conventional war against Lithuania or of a nuclear strike on anyone in Europe, but above all the threat of the export of Russian terrorism to neighbouring countries will increase. No Article 5 of NATO Charter protects against this. We have not yet seen this, we have not seen massacres in city centre streets, cafés or bus bombings. We must prepare for it with much greater intensity than we have done so far, because neither tanks, nor drones, nor the German brigade will protect us from this.

– A different Russia is a Europe without a permanent threat.

The only guarantee of long-term security for us and for the whole of Europe against such a bloody Putin Russia is a different Russia and Belarus (without Putin and Lukashenko), which, after the transformation of the regime, might yet be able to become more normal states. Even if the likelihood of such a transformation is not high, we would be making a historic mistake if we did not make every effort to persuade the West to invest maximum resources in realising such a remote possibility.

– Neither the opposition, nor Maidans, nor “elections” will change the Kremlin regime.

No opposition or civil society in Russia or Belarus will be the trigger for such a transformation. Neither will the regime’s organised and controlled imitation of “elections” bring about change, nor will there be any Maidans in either Moscow or Minsk, because on the very first day of public protests, everyone will be shot or blown up without mercy. However, the current democratic opposition and civil society will play a special and indispensable role when the transformation of the regime begins and the way is opened for lasting positive change.

– The revolt in the Kremlin is the path to the beginning of change.

The only way to start the regime transformation is to revolt in or near the Kremlin. Possible organisers: Putin’s rivals within the Kremlin; a younger generation of oligarchs who are losing access to the usual financial flows linked to international markets; “patriotic” officers who might see Russia’s existential doom as a real threat, as predicted in a statement issued by the Russian Retired Officers’ Association on behalf of retired General Lev Ivashov as long ago as January 2022 (a month before the start of war).

– The lessons of history: change in Russia can only come through change in the Kremlin.

It is worth remembering that after Stalin’s death, Nikita Khrushchev “cleaned up” the Kremlin within 3 years, ousting L.Beria and other rivals and becoming the sole leader; in 1964 L.Brezhnev “cleaned up” Nikita Khrushchev inside the Kremlin and took over from him; in 1984, Mikhail Gorbachev, with the blessing of the previously deceased Andropov, took over from the Kremlin gerontocracy; in 1991 Gorbachev was almost democratically ousted by Boris Yeltsin, who had managed to dismantle the Soviet Union itself; thanks to the manipulations of the Kremlin “family”, in 2000 Putin took over from Yeltsin in Russia. All changes in Russia have so far started in the Kremlin. It is therefore most likely that Putin will be removed from power in the same Kremlin-ripe manner, or only after his natural death.

– The opportunity for change in the Kremlin will only come after the crushing victory of Ukraine.

In the short term, the window of opportunity for the Kremlin’s own efforts to bring about such a change in the Kremlin environment can only open after Ukraine’s victory over Russia. For the Putin regime to suffer a crippling blow and for the window of opportunity for change to open, Russia needs to lose the war in Ukraine in a crushing manner. And that requires the West to have a clear plan for achieving such a Ukrainian victory.

– Ukraine’s victory requires EUR100 billion of Western military support.

For Russia to suffer such a defeat in Ukraine, it would require a much larger (2-3 times larger than before) Western military support to reach Ukraine. This requires Western support for Ukraine to increase from the EUR 40 billion of Western military aid provided in 2023 to EUR 100 billion in one year already in 2024. The same and even more Western military support will be needed in 2025 and possibly even in 2026. The EU must plan for such support without waiting for the US to make up its mind. Each year, such EU support to Ukraine would amount to around 0.55% of EU GDP. The EU can realise such military support for Ukraine if it borrows on its own behalf on the markets, as it did at the beginning of the pandemic, when it borrowed on the markets EUR 800 billion (I wrote about this in a previous text).

– The West will only provide EUR 100 billion to Ukraine once it has overcome its fear of what will happen after the collapse of the Putin regime.

In order for the West to muster the political will to provide hundreds of billions of dollars of military aid to Ukraine, it needs to ensure that the West is no longer afraid of Russia’s defeat in Ukraine and the possible collapse of Putin’s regime. The West needs to begin to see in the collapse of Putin’s regime the potential for positive change in Russia. Unfortunately, the collapse of the Putin regime is currently frightening many in the West with the uncertainty of what might happen in Russia after the collapse of the Putin regime. It seems to many that in such a case, there is a strong possibility that nationalists and enthusiasts for the restoration of the Russian empire who are even more frightening than Putin would take power in the Kremlin. Others feel that the collapse of Putin’s regime could lead to complete chaos in Russia, to the collapse of the state itself, to inter-regional and inter-ethnic bloody battles, and to the uncertainty of who will continue to control Russia’s nuclear weapons. Such fears, which prevail in the corridors of the West, are very unfavourable both for Ukraine and for our strategic ambition to achieve a clear victory for Ukraine, because if the collapse of Putin’s regime continues to be feared in the West, Russia’s significant defeat in Ukraine will also be feared, which means that Ukraine’s significant victory will be feared. And if the fear of the collapse of Putin’s regime also leads to a fear of a Ukrainian victory, then it will also lead to a fear of providing Ukraine with the number and type of weapons that would allow it to achieve such a victory.

– The Western strategy of “slow boiling of the frog” for Putin.

This is what we see today in the West’s behaviour: it gives Ukraine just enough military support to keep it from losing the war, but it is totally inadequate for Ukraine to win significantly. For such a Ukrainian victory would mean the crushing of Russia and the eventual collapse of the Putin regime. That is what the West fears. And that is why their strategy of support for Ukraine is simultaneously based on two diametrically opposed strategies: according to the West, on the one hand, Ukraine must not lose the war (but whether it must win to the extent of liberating all of its territories remains unclear); and, on the other hand, the West does not dare to say that Russia must lose this war painfully (which means that the West does not want Russia to lose either). Therefore, consciously or unconsciously, the West has so far pursued only a “slow boiling of the frog” strategy with regard to Russia: slowly increasing the supply of arms to Ukraine, in the hope that in the long run Putin will not even feel that he is “boiling” in the war he has started, and that any Kremlin uprising would then remove him from power. However, it is unclear which will “boil over” and collapse more quickly in the long term – the Putin regime or the political will of the West to support Ukraine. This “slow boiling of the frog” strategy in the West is a strategy of “not having any clear and consolidated strategy”, and this lack of a strategy could eventually lead to a complete catastrophe for the West, not to the collapse of the Putin regime. In order for the West to get out of the trap of the “slow boiling of the frog” strategy that it is pursuing, the West needs to be persuaded not to be afraid of what might happen in Russia after the collapse of the Putin regime. And this requires convincing the West that a positive transformation towards a normal and non-aggressive state can take place in Russia after Putin’s collapse. And for such a transformation to take place in Russia, it requires a consolidated and holistic Western strategy for this purpose, drawn up together with the Russian opposition and civil society.

– From a “slow-boiling” coalition to an “anti-Putin” coalition.

If the West is to have any more consolidated strategy for its action in this war, the first thing that must be achieved is that the “pro-Ukrainian” coalition that now exists in the West, although it is unable to clearly define its objectives, should dare to become an “anti-Putin” coalition. As Vladislav Inozemtsev, the Russian opposition analyst, very sensibly puts it, the victory over Hitler in World War II was achieved because the Nazis were not fought by a “pro-British” coalition, but by an “anti-Hitler” coalition that had clearly defined its aims and which in 1943 declared that it would seek Hitler’s unconditional defeat. So now, too, the democratic Western world must finally dare to join the “anti-Putin” coalition and seek the unconditional crushing of the Putin regime, at least in Ukraine. The creation of such an “anti-Putin coalition” is a prerequisite for the West to finally have the courage and the ability to pursue the unconditional victory of Ukraine and to invest the EUR 100 billion in it, without which it will never be achieved.

– For the Anti-Putin coalition – anti-Putin strategy.

European security requires a different Russia; it requires the collapse of the Putin regime, and it requires the victory of Ukraine, in which the West must invest as a long-term guarantee of its own security (not just Ukraine’s). For such an “anti-Putin” coalition to finally come together, its members need to stop fearing that an unconditional Ukrainian victory might also lead to the collapse of the Putin regime. This requires such an anti-Putin coalition to have an anti-Putin strategy for Russia, which not only includes ideas on how the West must invest in the victory in Ukraine in order to bring about the collapse of Putin’s regime, but also ideas on how the West must invest in preparing for future changes in Russia after the collapse of Putin, so as to ensure that those changes are positive. Therefore, the West’s anti-Putin coalition must involve the current Russian democratic opposition and civil society in its activities and in the development and implementation of its anti-Putin strategy, despite their weakness, fragmentation and immaturity. In this way, the anti-Hitler coalition began, before the end of the Second World War, to draw up a Western strategy for the development of post-Hitler Germany after Hitler’s defeat in the war, for the realisation of justice and the restoration of democracy, and for the development of the economy, so as to leave no room for political radicalism in the poverty-stricken society of post-war Germany. The same strategy must already be developed by the anti-Putin Western coalition.

– The West’s plan for lasting peace on the European continent is the West’s anti-Putin Russian strategy, subordinated to the West’s strategy for Ukraine’s victory and success.

Not so long ago, Mr J.Borell admitted in the European Parliament that the European Union did not have a Russian strategy before the outbreak of the war against Ukraine, because it was so heavily dependent on Russian gas, and that it did not have a Ukrainian strategy, because the EU’s strategy for Ukraine was subordinated to the EU’s strategy for Russia. Mr Borell believed that the end of the EU’s dependence on Russian gas could lead to the birth of a new EU strategy towards Russia. It is my conviction that such an EU strategy towards Russia must henceforth be subordinate to the EU strategy towards Ukraine. And the EU’s strategy for Ukraine must focus first and foremost on the victory of Ukraine and the crushing of Russia, but it must also include Ukraine becoming a member of the EU and NATO, because only that will create a long-term success for Ukraine, and that will be an inspiring example for ordinary Russians. That is the only reason why Putin launched the war against Ukraine – because he was afraid that it might become such a model of success. The West’s strategy towards Ukraine and Russia must aim both at a Ukrainian victory and at the fact that such a victory can be a trigger for positive change in Russia. This is the only way not only to the security of Ukraine, but also to the long-term peace and security of the whole of Europe.

Finally, I would like to reiterate the same 12 points, which should define not only the West’s response to Russia’s aggression, but also the Western policy that Lithuania should pursue by consistently bringing together like-minded people. It is not enough for us to be concerned only with our military security. Our security will be determined first and foremost by the victory of Ukraine and the West’s support for such a victory. We need to win the battles on the political front in the West in return for much greater Western support for Ukraine in order for Ukraine to win on the military front in the East and to crush Russia. These 12 points of the Western strategy are the main objective of our political battles on the Western front:

1. What’s next: Russia’s trajectory is increasingly desperate and bloody, and heading towards North Korea.
2. The threat of exporting terrorism from Russia; Article 5 of NATO Charter will not protect against terrorism.
3. A different Russia – a Europe without a permanent military and terrorist threat.
4. Neither opposition, nor Maidans, nor “elections” will change the Kremlin regime.
5. Revolt in the Kremlin is the path to change; the lessons of history: change in Russia can only come through change in the Kremlin.
6. Change in the Kremlin is only possible after Ukraine’s crushing victory.
7. Ukraine’s victory requires an annual Western military aid of EUR 100 billion.
8. The West will only provide EUR 100 billion to Ukraine once it has overcome its fear of what will happen after the collapse of the Putin regime.
9. The West’s prevailing “slow boiling of the frog” strategy for Putin.
10. From a “slow-boil” coalition to an “anti-Putin” coalition.
11. For an anti-Putin coalition – an anti-Putin strategy: European security needs a different Russia, it needs the collapse of the Putin regime, and it needs the victory of Ukraine, in which the West needs to invest as a long-term guarantee of its own (not only Ukrainian) security;
12. The West’s plan for lasting peace on the European continent is the West’s anti-Putin Russian strategy, subordinated to the West’s strategy for Ukraine’s victory and success.

Both I and my colleague Rasa Juknevičienė, representing Lithuania in the European Parliament, have consistently sought to ensure that the European Union formulates its short-term and long-term policy towards Ukraine and Russia in line with these 12 points. But Lithuania’s efforts in the European Parliament alone will not be enough to consolidate a clear anti-Putin coalition in Europe with an equally clear anti-Russian strategy in the name of a Ukrainian victory in the short term. The task of establishing such an anti-Putin coalition with an anti-Putin strategy needs to be carried out in all Western capitals, mobilising like-minded people and dispelling Western fears about what will happen to Russia after the collapse of the Putin regime following the defeat of Russia in war. This must be done on behalf of Lithuania, not only by the Members of the European Parliament, but also by the Government and the President of the Republic, who is unfortunately now concentrating more on visiting Lithuanian municipalities than Western capitals. The efforts of the Lithuanian public to encourage Lithuanian politicians to form such a coalition must be as enthusiastic as the efforts to achieve 4% of GDP for Lithuanian defence.

The anti-Putin coalition’s immediate task is to mobilise EUR 100 billion of Western military support to achieve a Ukrainian victory. Without such support, there will be no Ukrainian victory, and without a Ukrainian victory, the whole of Europe will end up where it was in 1938 after the Munich Agreement. The only question remains who will be the next victim if Ukraine is sacrificed in the same way that Czechoslovakia was sacrificed in Munich in 1938.

Our defence begins with the victory of Ukraine – we must never forget that. And that must be our top priority.

2024.03.24

Europe must be able to defend itself on its own

“We must speed up the creation of the European defence pillar. We have seen the limits of Europe’s preparedness for wars and conflicts, and that’s why we need to upgrade our capacity quickly. The biggest security threat to Europe today is Russia, and we must be able to defend ourselves on our own, regardless of who is in the White House,” says Manfred Weber MEP, Chairman of the EPP Group ahead of the plenary debate on strengthening the European defence.

“We are living in extremely difficult times, and immediate action is needed to prevent even greater challenges in the near future. Firstly, a commitment of 0.25% of GDP from each EU Member State to arm Ukraine would be sufficient to ensure that it can win this war,” adds Rasa Juknevičienė MEP, the EPP Group’s Vice-Chair in charge of security and defence.

Juknevičienė is not only adamant that Europe must help Ukraine win the war, but also that “we must be fully prepared ourselves – to face both conventional and hybrid attacks. If we do not stop Putin in Ukraine, he will certainly be tempted to go even further and test red lines and our resolve. We must not fear the defeat of Putin’s regime, because it is the only way to achieve sustainable peace on the European continent,” concludes Juknevičienė.

The EPP Group’s longstanding calls for the creation of a stronger European defence capability have borne fruit. Very soon, the European Commission will announce a plan for a European defence pillar, which will start with the creation of a European market for defence goods.

“We should focus on real European added value, such as cyber defence, drones and Europe’s deterrence as a whole, including nuclear. This is where we need Europe because the national level alone cannot deliver these capabilities. If we want to keep the peace, we have to be strong together,” Weber stresses.

2024.03.19

A. Kubilius. About Another War

Let me say straight away that I support Israel in its difficult war against the Hamas terrorists. I have been saying this since 7th October last year, since the massacre by Hamas terrorists on Israeli territory.

Of course, I must say that I am humanely sorry for both the Palestinian civilians who are dying and the Jews who have been killed, but the war on terror requires not only the emotion of pity, but also rational analysis.

This text, with its reflections and conclusions, was prompted by another POLITICO article on the conduct of the war that caught my eye.

However, for me, these thoughts have been on my mind since the beginning of the war. And although international attention to the war seems to be waning, the problems of the region, which are also important to us in a global world, remain. That is why I want to express my thoughts a little more systematically than I would have done at the beginning of the war.

I have said since the beginning of the war that I see no difference between the actions of Hamas and ISIS. ISIS (Islamic State, Daesh) terrorised the Middle East between 2014 and 2017, when it managed to seize huge territories, including the city of Mosul in Iraq, a city of few millions. One can see the difference in the fact that the number of ISIS victims was several times higher than that of Hamas, one can recall the fact that ISIS undertook the genocide of the Yazidi ethno-religious group, but one cannot fail to see the identity in the fact that both ISIS and Hamas have resorted to mass terrorism in order to kill as many civilians as possible. Al-Qaeda did the same by hijacking Boeing passenger planes and targeting the World Trade Center towers.

I do not see any difference between the nature of Hamas and the nature of ISIS either. When Hamas carried out the massacre in Israel, the cheering crowds of Hamas supporters in Gaza waved ISIS flags in large numbers.

And even at the beginning of the war, I regretfully said that I saw only one difference. The difference between how the West viewed the defeat of ISIS in 2016-2017, in which it itself participated alongside the Iraqi army and the Kurdish Peshmerga, and how a part of the West views Israel’s military action today to defeat the Hamas terrorists.

The defeat of ISIS was hailed in many Western capitals at the time as a major victory against terrorism (since many Western countries, led by the US, took part in the military action against ISIS), whilst Israel’s fight against Hamas terrorists has been the subject of constant Western criticism and demands to halt hostilities.

Although both the defeat of ISIS and the fight against Hamas have resulted in similar numbers of civilian casualties, since the terrorists are holding civilians hostage as a ‘human shield’, preventing them from evacuating.

It is enough to compare the 2016-2017 struggle to liberate the city of Mosul from ISIS terrorists with the Israeli struggle to liberate Gaza City from Hamas terrorists.

ISIS forces occupied the city of Mosul in June 2014 and the liberation of the city began in October 2016 and continued until July 2017. Before the occupation, the city had 2.5 million inhabitants, but during the 2 years of occupation, the population decreased to 1.5 million.

Experts estimate that between 5,000 and 12,000 ISIS terrorists defended Mosul from liberation. The battles of liberation lasted almost 10 months. The American-led coalition force of nearly 110,000 troops used aviation, artillery and other heavy military equipment to take the city. The city was badly damaged. Experts estimate that up to 40,000 civilians may have been killed during the siege (estimates vary widely from 10,000 to 40,000 casualties). It is difficult to find information on whether, during the military operations to liberate Mosul, the Coalition forces were called upon by the West to cease fire to avoid civilian casualties. Hostilities continued until Mosul was completely taken and liberated from ISIS terrorists. Today, Mosul is being rebuilt and living a normal, peaceful life, no longer afraid of ISIS terror.

Between 2.1 and 2.3 million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip (around 600,000 in Gaza City itself). Israeli security experts estimate that Hamas has up to 40,000 active fighters in Gaza, with hundreds of thousands more in Gaza cheerfully supporting Hamas terrorist attacks. Israel mobilised 300,000 IDF reservists before launching military action in Gaza. The Israeli army warned the population of Gaza in advance of the military action and urged them to evacuate. The evacuation was reportedly obstructed by Hamas fighters who sought to use civilians as a human shield. The Palestinian Ministry of Health says that up to 30,000 civilians have been killed so far, while the Israeli army reports that it has managed to eliminate 10,000 Hamas terrorists so far. Israel, unlike the coalition that liberated Mosul, is the subject of much international criticism, condemnation in various Western capitals and repeated calls for an end to hostilities against Hamas terrorists.

The overall conclusion is that the operations to liberate Mosul from ISIS terrorists and to liberate Gaza from Hamas terrorists took place in very similar conditions: in densely populated cities where tens of thousands of terrorists hide among the civilian population and therefore prevent their evacuation. In both cases, the use of heavy military equipment by troops against terrorists hiding in the cities has led to severe destruction of the cities and to a significant number of civilian casualties.

That is the price of fighting terrorism. Terrorism may be born for a variety of reasons, but the only choice for the civilised world is to fight and destroy terrorism. Such a struggle is always difficult and always involves many civilian casualties. However, if terrorism is not eradicated, the casualties and tragedies are even greater and completely unpredictable.

In Mosul, the terrorists have been defeated and the city has been freed; in Gaza, the fight against the terrorists is ongoing, and the territory has not yet been liberated. Additional casualties in Gaza can be avoided – all Hamas needs to do is to stop its activities tomorrow, end its military resistance, disarm and there will be an instant end to hostilities in Gaza.

The liberation of Mosul and the liberation of Gaza from the terrorists are therefore identical processes in their causes and their consequences.

However, the reaction of the democratic Western world to these two identical processes is, as has already been said, completely different: the liberation of Mosul has been welcomed in the Western world, while the liberation of Gaza has been the subject of severe criticism in parts of the West, with vehement statements of condemnation and demands for Israel to cease its military operation immediately.

Why are the reactions so different? There are probably several reasons: historical, political or psychological. However, it is not lost on us that the democratic West is still influenced by a subconscious anti-Semitism, which is why Israel is being condemned for its fight against terrorism, whilst the coalition that liberated Mosul from the terrorists has been congratulated on its victory.

When you ask those who condemn Israel’s war against Hamas terrorists how else Israel should deal with the Hamas terrorist problem, the most common answer in the West is very simple: a two-state solution must be implemented immediately.

It is my belief that the so-called ‘two-state solution’ has been used in the West very often, and for quite a long time, only as a sham and an easy way of escaping from the discussion and resolution of difficult issues.

Looking both at the history of the region in the 20th century and at recent developments, I do not see any real prospect of an independent Palestinian state emerging alongside Israel in the near future. It is not because I am in any way against Palestinian Arabs, and it is not because I think that any people are unprepared to live in their own state. However, when we talk about the prospects of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, we have to realise that without a fundamental change in the behaviour of the Palestinian Arabs, and without a fundamental change in the security architecture of the whole region, Israel will never agree to a separate Palestinian state alongside them. This is because Israel would regard the emergence of such a state as a strategic threat to its security and to its existence.

The question of an independent state or another entity that satisfies the Palestinian Arabs can only be resolved by any solution when Israel feels secure in implementing such a solution. Until such a condition is guaranteed, all Western talk of a “two-state solution” will remain a Western attempt to take the easy way out of difficult decisions. And from their responsibilities.

One can go on for a long time accusing Israel of being concerned only with its own security, of ignoring the problems of the Palestinian Arabs, or of ignoring any United Nations resolutions, but the stark reality is that ever since the United Nations’ historic decision in 1947 to bless the creation of the Israeli and Palestinian states side by side, the Israeli people have been fighting to implement this decision, and the Palestinian Arabs have been fighting with weapons against the implementation of this decision. And they did so with the support of the entire neighbouring Arab world of hundreds of millions of people. Israel has had to endure at least three Arab wars in which the Arabs sought to destroy Israel (1948, 1967 and 1973), as well as several terrorist intifadas, and thousands of Hamas or Hezbollah rockets from Gaza or Lebanon that still reach Israeli territory today. And now Hamas has started a real terrorist war against Israel.

It is arguable who has made more mistakes in the 75 years since Israel’s establishment: the Israelis, who have expanded the territory under their control or occupation after every victory in which they have succeeded in defending Israel against the military aggression of their Arab neighbours, who are intent on destroying it; or the Palestinian Arabs and the other Arab states that support them, who are still not giving up on destroying the State of Israel by war or terror.

However, it is now clear that Hamas’ path of terror is merely a distancing factor from the Palestinian Arabs’ declared ambition to have their own state. Israel will never agree to have a state ruled by terrorists in its neighbourhood, because that would be a direct road to Israel’s destruction. Similarly, neither France nor Spain, nor the European Socialists nor the Greens, would accept the prospect of having a terrorist state in their neighbourhood, even though they are the ones from whom in the European Parliament most of the fierce criticism of Israel comes, as well as primitive and superficial calls for an immediate solution to all the problems through a ‘two-state solution’.

Such calls only serve to delay a real and rational solution to the problems that have cost so many lives.

I try to answer the question of how to solve the problem of the Palestinian Arabs, their aspiration to have their own state, rationally (at least from my point of view): the key to solving a problem like this, which is riddled with historical injustices and victims of terrorism, is only one: to start with the security of Israel. Only when Israel feels safe and has security guarantees from all its neighbours will it be possible to move from the emotions of mutual hatred to rational solutions. Until both the Western and Arab worlds realise this, Israel will defend its right to exist with arms and will not enter into any talk of creating a separate Palestinian Arab state.

So, paradoxical as it may sound, those who are genuinely concerned about the fate of Palestine, and not just about condemning Israel repeatedly, should, above all, be courageous in their support for Israel’s war against the Hamas terrorists. Because an Israeli victory in this war is the first, but not the only, condition for Israel to feel secure.

The second step is for the Arab states to sign the so-called “Abraham accords” with Israel, which provide for security guarantees from the Arab countries to Israel on the one hand, and for Israel and the US to invest heavily and beneficially in the Arab economies on the other. It is worth remembering that the United States of America is very much involved in the signing of such agreements. Hamas launched its terrorist war against Israel last year when it emerged that Saudi Arabia was also prepared to sign such an agreement. Terrorism does not need peace in the region because it is also a lucrative business, and it could not exist in peace.

The third step, which is necessary for Israel to feel secure, is for the Palestinian Arabs to unambiguously condemn and distance themselves from their own terrorism. The terrorist path chosen by the Palestinian Arabs is the great mistake and tragedy of the Palestinian Arabs, because it has destroyed any chance of finding a realistic way in which their separate state can be created. All this has left us with nothing but the empty talk of a ‘two-state solution’ by Western politicians, but this is the easiest way to escape from the more difficult decisions, and it only covers up their deep indifference to the tragedies of the people of the region.

It is time for the Western world to realise that the old ways and ideas of “two states” can no longer be expected to solve the bloody problems of the region. Only if the West do not fundamentally care about the future of the region and the Palestinian Arabs, can it continue to follow the same paradigm for its own satisfaction: condemning Israel and demanding the immediate implementation of a ‘two-state solution’. However, it is clear that this will only prolong what we have now and what we have had for the last 75 years: wars, terrorism and a lot of blood. And no real prospect of meeting the expectations of the Palestinian Arabs.

In order to put an end to the tragedies of the region and the suffering of the Palestinian Arabs themselves, the West must finally have the courage to abandon the old paradigms of “two states” and “Israel’s fault”, which have so far only guaranteed that the region’s problems are at a tragic impasse. New and innovative solutions are needed to finally address these problems in a real way.

The solution is clear: commencing with the security of Israel. Help today to defeat the terrorism that threatens Israel. Then persuade the Arab countries and Israel to sign the “Abrahamic Accords” guaranteeing mutual security and development. Then intellectually help the Palestinian Arabs to “heal” from the paradigm of terrorism (which may first require forcing Iran to abandon its sponsorship of terrorism in the region). And then, with the help of a secure Israel, to assist the Palestinian Arabs in developing their ability to govern themselves, beginning with genuine autonomy for Palestinian Arab cities and towns.

Is it possible to expect such a change in attitude from the West and the European Union?

I hope so!

It once seemed impossible to expect the European Union to concern itself with how to help Ukraine withstand Russian military aggression and how to help Ukraine become a member of the EU.

Now, to the surprise of many, this is really happening!

And why should we, Lithuanians,  care that Israel finally feels safe and that the bloody problems in the region are finally resolved?

We should be concerned about this not only because of the history of our relations with the Jewish people, which has been full of everything, including the Lithuanian tragedy of the Holocaust and the bloody responsibilities of the representatives of the Lithuanian nation. It is also important for us today that the bloody Kremlin is using the terrorist ‘services’ of its partner Hamas to create a much broader crisis in the region and simultaneously weaken the European Union’s ability to counter the Kremlin’s aggression against Ukraine.

We must recall that terrorists all over the world have been united since the Soviet era. Only Western unity today can counter this.

This must also concern us in Lithuania because our security relies on it!

2024.03.18

Andrius Kubilius. Putin Is Not The President

While listening to the news of the Lithuanian radio, I hear them reporting: “With presidential elections taking place in Russia today … etc.”

There are no presidential elections in Russia today and no President has been elected in Russia. Because there was no possibility of electing anyone or choosing from anyone. And that  hasn’t been possible for a long time.

The 17 March “presidential election” in Russia was exactly the same as the “parliamentary elections” on 25 February in Belarus, that were neither elections nor to a parliament.

We all know very well that Belarus has neither a real Parliament nor a real President. It has the usurper Lukashenko, it has the dictator Lukashenko, but not the President Lukashenko. Any dictionary of international terms can tell us that the only person who can be called President is someone who has been elected in accordance with the international electoral standards enshrined in the Constitution and who acts in accordance with the Constitution. Elections, the Constitution and Lukashenko have nothing to do with each other.

The same with Putin: neither elections nor the Constitution. Therefore, by continuing to call him President, we are deceiving ourselves and the international community. Just as we are fooling ourselves by continuing to say that there was a presidential election in Russia today. There were no elections in Russia, and they did not elect or choose any President. We can call Putin whatever we like: dictator, war criminal, Kremlin mafia boss, but not elected President.

Russia does not have a President, nor does it have elections. And it won’t have as long as Putin is around. And it is not elections that will bring down the Kremlin regime.

The only difference between the dictators of the 20th century and those of the 21st century, both in Russia and throughout the world, is this: in the 20th century, dictators did not need any elections; in the 21st century, dictators like to pretend that they are supported by their citizens.

In the 20th century, under the Soviet empire, Stalin did not need any elections to stay in power as long as he wanted. In the 21st century, in the era of the restoration of the Russian Empire, Putin, for some reason, wants to have the simulation of “elections” in addition to being in power for as long as he wants. “Potemkin elections”, as Politico called today’s “special operation”.

At the end of the operation, Putin will write down whatever victorious figures he wants: how many participated and how many voted for him. Those figures mean nothing, and it would be a mistake to analyse them in the same way as we analyse the figures for the same factors at the end of elections in Lithuania or the United States.

The only more significant result of the day is that the Russian opposition, with its “Noon without Putin” action, has managed to demonstrate to Western politicians that there is a sufficiently strong anti-Putin potential for public sentiment in Russia.

Changes in Russia will only come after the victory in Ukraine. And that is only – maybe – it will come. But for Ukraine to prevail, the West needs to stop being afraid of the collapse of the Putin regime and to stop being afraid of supporting Ukraine until its crushing victory. Today, such fears exist and they are  preventing Ukraine from receiving maximum support. For the West to stop being afraid, it needs to believe that a post-Putin Russia can be different. Today, the Russian opposition has tried to show this.

After today, the West must draw some simple conclusions:

  • Russia has a clear alternative: a Russia without elections or a Russia without Putin; as long as there is Putin, there will be no elections.
  • After today, Putin is neither elected nor President. All the other titles – dictator, war criminal, Kremlin mafia boss – fit him. Talking about Putin’s legitimacy is the same as talking about the legitimacy of a mafia boss.
  • Peace on the European continent is only possible when not only Russia is crushed in Ukraine, but also when Putin is no longer in the Kremlin. Therefore, the Western coalition “for Ukraine” must become an “anti-Putin” coalition, in the same way that the West was united by an “anti-Hitler” coalition during the Second World War. This is the only way to victory for Ukraine and to our security. The West is not yet united in such an “anti-Putin” coalition. And that is the biggest problem for Ukraine, for us and for the wider West.

Let’s try to act on it: that’s the main conclusion of the day. Let’s try to persuade the West to take on Putin seriously. Just as the West took on Hitler during World War II.

2024.03.13

Need to address the urgent concerns surrounding Ukrainian children forcibly deported to Russia

Madam President, dear colleagues, dear brave Ukrainian girl, Valeriia, to date, around 20 000 Ukrainian children have been stolen from their homeland and deported to Russia, with only 400 having been returned. Since 2014, estimates suggest the number of these forcibly displaced children could be as high as 700 000. Many of these children are orphans or kids without parental care.

Deportation – a war crime under the Rome Statute and the Fourth Geneva Convention – is being used as a weapon against the most vulnerable. The goal of this merciless policy is as clear as it is cruel: to erase the Ukrainian identity of these children and ‘Russify’ them.

I grew up in Soviet-occupied Lithuania, so I know what ‘Russification’ and ‘Sovietisation’ means. The names of children are changed; their birth certificates are altered. They are bombarded with Russian propaganda and forced to attend Russian military processions. Their forcible deportation is not merely a violation of international law; it is a calculated act of cultural and national genocide, aiming to extinguish the very essence of Ukraine’s future.

We call on the EU to condemn these actions and to recognise them as part of a genocidal policy against the Ukrainian people. We also urge the EU to establish a dedicated team and provide sustainable, well-funded support to assist Ukraine in identifying, returning and rehabilitating these children, and to continue supporting organisations like Golosy Ditey, which are crucial in these efforts.

×