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.

2024.03.19

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.

2024.03.05

Electoral programme of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats for the 2024 European Parliament elections

Electoral programme of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (pdf):

Europe for Us, We For Europe: To Grow And To Defend!!!

On 3 March 2024, the Council of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (Tėvynės sąjunga-Lietuvos krikščionys demokratai, TS-LKD) approved the provisions of its electoral programme for the 2024 elections to the European Parliament (EP): “Europe – for us, we – for Europe: to grow and to defend!”. The list of TS-LKD candidates for the EP elections was also approved, led by the current MEP Andrius Kubilius.

This year Lithuania will celebrate the 20th anniversary of its membership of the EU and NATO. The programme adopted by the TS-LKD states that membership of the EU and its rich single market has allowed Lithuania to build its own success story. The Conservatives’ strategic declaration “We Believe in Europe” was adopted at the HU 25th Anniversary Congress in 2018, outlining the core provisions of the TS-LKD European policy, and stating that EU and NATO membership contributes to the realisation of Lithuania’s most important interests – to strengthen its geopolitical security and to foster the growth of the economic and social well-being of the people.

The programme also provides that EU membership over the last 20 years has enabled Lithuania to grow safely and rapidly. The provisions state that we and Europe will continue to grow, but that new challenges will have to be met, both for Lithuania and for the EU.

One of the provisions of the TS-LKD electoral programme is based on the fact that the next decade will be the decade of overcoming Europe’s geopolitical crisis, in other words, it will be the “Ukrainian decade”. Only Ukraine’s success, its victory over Russia, its reconstruction and modernisation, and its membership of the EU and NATO, will bring about change in the Eastern European region.

The TS-LKD is convinced that Ukraine’s victory, its reconstruction and its Euro-Atlantic integration are what the EU and other Western countries can and must do. The most important task for TS-LKD representatives in the European Parliament over the next decade will be to do everything possible to ensure that the EU effectively realises its responsibility for Ukraine’s success. For the TS-LKD, the most important concern is that the EU must grow, expand and become stronger, as this is a prerequisite for Lithuania’s own continued secure growth.

The work and ideas of TS-LKD representatives for the transformation of the Eastern region and the restoration of sustainable peace on the European continent are known and appreciated in the international community. In the European Parliament, our party’s representatives work in the largest political group of the European People’s Party (EPP). This allows us to have a greater influence on the decisions of the EP and on the dissemination of ideas that are important for Lithuania. The current President of the European Commission and many influential members of the European Commission are also members of this political group, which opens the door for informal coordination of important decisions for Lithuania, the region and the EU as a whole.

TS-LKD information and photo

2024.03.04

Andrius Kubilius. When Protests Make One Dizzy

Polish farmers have decided to block Lithuanian borders.

As it is known, the Polish authorities are not stopping them from blocking the Ukrainian borders for a long time, which is neither morally nor politically acceptable. Even humanitarian aid from Lithuania cannot reach Ukraine because Polish farmers are fighting their supposedly ‘just’ battles.

The consequences of the Polish Government’s acquiescence to the Polish blockades on the Ukrainian border are entirely in line with the proverb: “Give an inch, they’ll take a mile”, and now they have decided to block the Lithuanian border too. Because it is no longer interesting to blockade only the Ukrainian border.

Polish farmers have created and successfully spread the myth internationally that they are still suffering badly from the influx of Ukrainian grain. That is why they are protesting. This was partly true until June 2023, but after the EU Commission and Ukraine took special measures to protect the markets of the countries neighbouring Ukraine, it is a lie. Since then, no surplus Ukrainian grain has entered the markets of Poland or any of its neighbours. This can be seen in the graph based on EU statistics  (see Figure 1 below), which demonstrates how much cereals have been entering the markets of Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria from the end of 2021. It is clear that after a peak of almost 1 million tonnes in November 2022, only around 15 000 tonnes (60 times less) are now entering these markets, which is exactly in line with the pre-war Ukrainian cereal export figures to these markets. 

Farmers might understandably be unhappy with the fact that wheat grain prices on world markets have been steadily declining since their peak, when they increased at least 3-fold from USD 300 per unit of relative weight (before the war) to USD 1 200 in the first months after the war. They have now fallen to USD 570 and are continuing to fall, but are still higher than they were before the war (see Figure 2 below). This global price trend is not due to Ukraine, but to the good harvests in Argentina this year and the good harvests forecast for the United States or Canada. The falling prices may cause various fears among Polish farmers, but it is neither moral nor sensible to protest on the Ukrainian or Lithuanian borders. Just as only those who are dizzy from protesting can protest on the borders of Ukraine or Lithuania regarding the consequences of the Green Deal approved in Brussels.

The consequences of such protests for Polish farmers could be very simple: it would not surprise me if a public campaign “buy Ukrainian and don’t buy Polish” starts in Lithuania.

Ukrainian salo and horilka are indeed of excellent quality.

**********

Figure 1. Imports of cereals from Ukraine into neighbouring (EU) Member States. Source: European Commission, Statistics on Ukrainian grains and oilseeds exports

 

 

Figure 2. Dynamics of wheat price in global markets (2015-2024, USd/Bushel). Source: tradingeconomics.com

 

2022.03.29

A.Kubilius. EU must stop financing Putin’s war machine! EU can introduce oil embargo now!

Putin’s war against Ukraine is an international crime. Ukrainians are defending their country in a heroic way. The West supports Ukraine, some countries are delivering weapons to Ukraine and sanctions of the West are hitting Russian economy in a painful way. However, the EU, which is very heavily dependent on supplies from Russia, until now is not able to introduce an embargo on energy resources. That is the reason why the EU continues to pay hundreds of millions of euros per day into the pockets of Putin. That way the EU is helping Putin to survive the impact of other sanctions. Some Western leaders claim that embargo (even if only oil embargo) will be very painful for European economies. Therefore, the embargo is still not introduced. This paper provides clear numbers from statistics as well as other evidence that the EU could immediately introduce embargo on oil import from Russia.

Read the whole paper.

2022.03.09

Members of European Parliament call for immediate EU embargo on the Russian oil, gas and coal

2022.03.04

Andrius Kubilius. Can Ukraine join the European Union this year?

Ukraine is fighting a brutal war. A war started by a madman who is scared that Ukraine, having chosen and defended its European integration course back on the Maidan in 2014, can become a successful, European state. And that would be the greatest danger for the Kremlin because the example of Ukrainian democracy might infect ordinary Russians.

The Ukrainians are successfully fighting and effectively defending their European choice. They are also defending the European Union as a whole, the wider EU community of European values.

It is, therefore, quite clear that Ukraine has a blood-earned right to belong to this community. After all, Ukraine not only manages to defend itself and the whole of Europe from the mad post-imperial beast but also, it seems, with the help of Western sanctions, manages to break the spine of this beast.

The world will be a different place after this war. It will be a different Ukraine, it will be a different European Union. Even Russia will be different.

Today, the question is not whether Ukraine can become a member of the European Union but how to resolve the question of Ukraine’s membership in the quickest possible way.

According to information, today, President Zelensky of Ukraine signed a formal request to the leaders of the European Union for Ukraine to be granted membership of the European Union.

The Slovak and Romanian prime ministers immediately announced that Ukraine must become a member of the EU without delay through a special fast-track procedure. The European Parliament is ready tomorrow to recommend to the EU institutions to grant Ukraine candidate status for EU membership.

The question is whether it is possible to devise such a special procedure so that Ukraine can become a member of the EU this year?

Lithuania, for example, took almost ten years to complete this process. Lithuania applied for membership in December 1995, started negotiations in October 1999, concluded the negotiations in December 2002, signed the accession treaty in April 2003, and became a member of the EU on 1 May 2004.

However, other specific experiences in the EU suggest that a country that has not been a member of the European Union before can become a member of the EU in less than a year.

And that experience is that of former East Germany becoming a member of the European Union. After the fall of the Berlin Wall on 9 November 1989, East Germany subsequently merged with West Germany and became a member of the European Union. There were no lengthy negotiations on East Germany’s adaptation and preparation for membership, or on the succession of the acquis, or on any other similar, sometimes lengthy, procedures, such as those that awaited us later. East Germany simply took over the entire legal framework of West Germany, then learned how to implement it as a member of the EU, and received long-term financial support from West Germany for the modernisation of its economy, which took quite a long time even after the reunification. However, East Germany went through all this long modernisation journey already as part of a united Germany and at the same time as a member of the European Union.

This whole process of East Germany’s rapid integration was made possible by a special procedure laid down in the conclusions of the European Council of 28 April 1990, which stated that East Germany’s integration into the EU would take place in parallel with its merger with West Germany, that the EU undertook to ensure that East Germany’s integration would take place smoothly and harmoniously. Furthermore, that full integration would be accompanied by entry into force of the legal agreement on a merger. As you know, the formal entry into force of such a treaty took place on 3 November 1990, and from that date, the former East German territory also became EU territory. Thus, East Germany was integrated into the European Union in less than a year.

During that year, the European Parliament set up a special temporary committee in February 1990 to discuss East German integration. It issued a special report in July 1990. It agreed that integration should go hand in hand with reunification and that exemptions for East Germany should be avoided. Accordingly, special observer status was provided for East German representatives, which lasted until the next European Parliament elections in 1994.

At the same time, it was foreseen that the East German Länder would receive €3 billion of EU structural funds for three years after integration, but also that the merged German government would commit itself to provide the large amounts of money needed to modernise the East German economy, at the cost of €110 billion each year to Germany. The EU’s budget for the East German economy was worth 110 billion German marks. This led not only to the rapid legal but also to the economic integration of East Germany.

This rapid integration of East Germany was, of course, the result of special circumstances: the Soviet Union was disintegrating, Germany was merging, and the other major Western powers wanted Germany, which had become the largest European power, to be integrated and constrained by its European obligations, and to avoid any problems of domination. But, above all, Europe had a clear political will to do so. That is why East Germany integrated under a special procedure.

Thus, the European Union can and knows how to create and implement special programmes for rapid integration when it has political will. The Ukrainian people have won the right to this special procedure with their own blood. And to the political will of the EU. And it, too, can be realised during this year. Of course, how and in what way Ukraine could rapidly adopt the EU acquis should be discussed separately. But it can be done if we want to.

As for the special and abundant financial support that will be needed to rebuild and modernise Ukraine’s economy and infrastructure, I wrote a little earlier: using the idea proposed by Mr Borel, the EU should create a “Free Ukraine Fund”, whose multi-billion euro funds could be borrowed on international markets on behalf of the EU, as has been done for the Next GenerationEU Fund, which is designed to deal with the consequences of the pandemic.

If Ukraine becomes an EU member by the end of this year, it could also apply for EU structural funds, which under EU rules would not exceed Ukraine’s 4% of GDP limit. So Ukraine, with a GDP of €155 billion, could qualify for regular support of around €6 billion from EU funds. This would cost each European (450 million inhabitants) around €14 per year.

This is roughly the price of 3 pints of beer in the Old Town of Brussels. Somehow we would manage!

Is it possible for Ukraine to become an EU member within a year? For some, this may seem like a naive dream. But dreams are there to make us strive to make them a reality. As the German example shows, big dreams have the potential to become big new realities.

It is up to all of us to make one more great dream a reality.

Photo: EPP Group in the European Parliament

2021.03.29

Joint declaration on Revision of EU Russia Strategy

The EU-Russia relations have been long troubled by authoritarian and cleptocratic behaviour of the Russian leadership in the Kremlin at home and in international relations. The recent affairs in the bilateral relations, including during the visit of the EU´s High Representative for the Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, show that the regime of Vladimir Putin is not interested in friendly relations and meaningful dialogue, rather it engages in active measures to undermine democracies at home and abroad. In addition, the statements of Russia´s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on the readiness of the Russian Federation for a complete breakdown of relations with the EU show how little the Kremlin is willing to engage and how much it prefers isolation over productive engagement.

In light of these developments in the EU-Russia relations, deteriorating domestic situation and increased crackdown of the regime against civil society, peaceful protesters and liberal opposition in Russia, which will only intensify in the run up to the parliamentary elections in September 2021, as well as ongoing Russian aggression against its neighbours and the West,

We, the Undersigned:

1. call for deep and comprehensive revision of EU Russia strategy. As the Kremlin regime starts to wage a “war” against its own people, it is time to critically reassess our relations with the Russian Federation and adapt EU Russia policy accordingly as well as to coordinate our policy vis-à-vis Russia together with our Transatlantic partners;  

2. stress, that the revised EU Russia strategy should entail concrete and flexible measures of EU support for democracy and civil society in Russia; “Democracy first” approach should be at the core of the revised strategy; The EU should develop a plan of attractive measures demonstrating to the Russian people and civil society what benefits of cooperation the EU is ready to propose if Russia in future will choose democracy over authoritarianism;

3. call for creation of similar platforms, as the Friends of Free Russia in the Czech Parliament, in national parliaments of the EU countries; supports the initiative of creating an international Inter-Parliamentary Association on Russia, which would unite parliamentarians from democratic countries across the transatlantic area, who support the view that Russia can become a democratic country.

Members of the European Parliament:

Andrius KUBILIUS, Standing Rapporteur on Russia, Co-ordinator of the Friends of European Russia Forum

Miriam LEXMANN

Rasa JUKNEVIČIENĖ

Bernard GUETTA

Riho TERRAS

Deputies of the Chamber of Deputies of the Czech Parliament:

Helena LANGŠÁDLOVÁ 

Pavel ŽÁČEK 

František KOPŘIVA 

Ondřej BENEŠÍK 

Petr GAZDÍK 

Jan LIPAVSKÝ

Jan FARSÝ  

Tomáš MARTÍNEK 

Senators of the Czech Senate:

Adéla ŠÍPOVÁ 

Marek HILŠER 

David SMOLJAK 

Mikuláš BEK 

Miroslav BALATKA 

Members of the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania:

Matas MALDEIKIS, Chair of the Parliamentary Group for Relations with Democratic Russia

Žygimantas PAVILIONIS, Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee

Giedrius SURPLYS

Arminas LYDEKA

Radvilė MORKŪNAITĖ-MIKULĖNIENĖ, Chair of the European Affairs Committee

Photo credit: European Parliament

2021.03.23

For Our Freedom and Yours – Declaration in Support of Free and Democratic Belarus

Since the fraudulent elections of 9 August 2020, the people of Belarus, gathering by hundreds of thousands in peaceful rallies all over Belarus and in exile, have been demanding freedom for Belarus. Alexander Lukashenko and his regime stole the victory of Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, rigged the elections and launched a brutal struggle against his own people.

The illegitimate regime of Lukashenko is practising a mere brutality by repressing tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators, using a torture on the innocent people, which has resulted in traumas of many citizens and deaths of Alexander Taraikovsky, Alexander Vikhor, Nikita Krivtsov, Kanstantsin Shyshmakou, Hienadz Shutau, Denis Kuznetsov, Roman Bondarenko and others.

There are nearly 300 political prisoners in Belarus. Maryia Kalesnikava, Viktar Babaryka, Siarhei Tsikhanouski, Mikola Statkevich, Paval Sieviaryniec, Ihar Losik and many, many others remain in prison for their dream to see Belarus free again.

On the occasion of 25 March, the Freedom Day of Belarus, we, undersigned, stand in solidarity with Democratic Belarus and express our full support for the enormous sacrifice and courage of the people of Belarus, our closest neighbour.

We invite all parliaments in Europe, U.S., Canada and other countries to organise groups “For democratic Belarus” and keep coordinating our efforts within this framework.

We, undersigned, invite the leaders of the EU, its Member States, G7 and partner countries, as well as international organisations to take bold leadership and initiate a process for a peaceful transition of power through the new elections in Belarus. This effort made by international community should lead to ending the terror and repressions in Belarus, freeing all detainees and political prisoners, and setting a course forholding free and democratic elections in the coming months before 9 August 2021.

Andrius Kubilius, Co-Chair, on behalf of the Informal Group of Friends of Democratic Belarus in the European Parliament

Andrzej Halicki, Co-Chair, on behalf of the Informal Group of Friends of Democratic Belarus in the European Parliament

Žygimantas Pavilionis, Chair, on behalf of the Informal Group of Friends of Democratic Belarus in the Lithuanian Parliament,

Olexey Honcharenko, Chair, on behalf of the Informal Group of Friends of Democratic Belarus in the Ukrainian Parliament,

Robert Tyszkiewicz, Chair, on behalf of the Informal Group of Friends of Democraticp Belarus in the Polish Parliament

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