Andrius Kubilius. On the Reality of War

We all know that this year Ukraine is finding it harder to liberate its occupied territories than last year. Increasingly, there are warnings (from the Ukrainian General V.Zaluzhnyi to the Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis) that the war could become a war of entrenchment, which only benefits Russia. On this occasion, there are attempts in various corners of the West to persuade that the only way to avoid the stagnation of trench warfare is to negotiate peace with Russia on Putin’s terms.

Many in the World are worried by such facts that the US Congress is unable to approve a new package of financial support for Ukraine. In addition, the US presidential elections are approaching, where D.Trump may win. It is impossible to predict the impact of this on the further course of the war. And then there is Hungary, which also makes the EU’s decision-making on support for Ukraine unpredictable.

It is against this backdrop that it is worth looking for fundamental answers as to why the frontline in Ukraine is stagnating, even though the West proclaims that it has provided Ukraine with a lot of military support, which should be sufficient to achieve victory. Even the F-16s are about to arrive.

Increasingly, one can hear hints in the West that the West is “tired” or is “about to be tired” of supporting Ukraine because the frontline is stalled. North Korea is capable of finding a million artillery shells for Russia in a month, but the European Union cannot do it in a year. Meanwhile, General Zaluzhnyi is not asking the West for tanks or artillery (which the West has supplied for as long as it has them in its warehouses, because Western military industry is still unable to increase production), but for drones, electronic anti-drones or radars, which the Ukrainians could produce themselves if they were given the funding.

The fundamental question thus arises: why is it that the West, while supporting Ukraine, has not been able to achieve a fundamental breakthrough in Ukraine’s war of liberation against Russia? After all, the West is economically tens of times stronger than Russia, and as history tells us, wars are always won in the end by stronger economies. This has always been the case. Why are we still not seeing that this time?

To understand the essence of the problem, we need to look in some detail at the “war finance” situation of Russia, Ukraine and the West. Accounting is not only important for the state budget, but also for military affairs.

So here are some important figures.

First of all, on the economic potential of Russia and the West: in 2022, Russia’s GDP was USD 1,8 trillion. The European Union’s GDP was USD 18,35 trillion and the USA’s USD 26,23 trillion. So, the EU alone has 10 times the economic potential of Russia, and if you add up the EU and US figures, the gap between the major Western powers and Russia is up to 25 times.

The West is 25 times economically stronger than Russia! According to the simple historical and economic logic of the wars, Russia should have been crushed in Ukraine long ago. But, as we can see, this is not yet the case. Why?

Therefore, it is worth taking a closer look at the bookkeeping of “war finance”: how much money does Russia, Ukraine and the West contribute to the financing of the war?

When looking at the Russian data, it is noticeable that the figures published in various expert publications or in the World Bank statistics vary quite significantly, because since the beginning of the war the Russian authorities have classified the financial statistics. Thus, the World Bank announces that in 2022 Russia will have spent USD 86 billion on military expenditure, while experts at Sweden’s SIPRI Institute put the figure at USD 61 billion. The Wilson Center puts the figure at USD 81,7 billion. The figures for 2023 vary even more: between 80 billion USD (SIPRI) and 120 billion USD (Wilson Center) for 2023. The Wilson Center also states that Russia’s “war costs” do not include all the costs of the war, as they exclude the treatment of the wounded and many other costs (which, if included, would bring Russia’s costs in 2023 up to USD 160 billion). It is also worth noting that the Russian government announces that it will increase military spending by as much as 70% in 2024.

Although the figures published by experts on Russia’s military spending vary, in summary, it can be said that in 2022, such spending would amount to around USD 80 billion, and in 2023 it may reach around USD 100 billion. This could rise even further in 2024.

Calculating the ratio of Russia’s military spending to GDP, we find that it was around 4% in 2022, over 5% in 2023 and will exceed 6% in 2024.

Russia is able to finance such military spending because it earns around USD 7,4 billion a month from oil and gas exports alone. This means that Russia can earn around USD 90 billion a year from oil and gas.

Ukraine plans to spend almost unchanged amounts of money on war financing in both 2023 and 2024 – around UAH 1,7 trillion, or around USD 44 billion.

Such war spending represents as much as 26,6% of Ukraine’s GDP, resulting in the deficit of the Ukrainian budget of USD 38 billion, or 27% of GDP. Therefore, Ukraine needs not only Western military support, but also support to cover the budget gap. Ukraine is also planning to spend USD 1,25 billion on the acquisition of drones in 2024.

The European Union has provided Ukraine with USD 29 billion in military aid since the start of the war. This is the support that the EU has provided for Ukraine’s military needs, both from its own budget (EUR 6 billion) and from all EU Member States combined, i.e. all the support provided to Ukraine by Germany, Lithuania, Poland and all other EU Member States.

However, this amount represents only 0,15% of the European Union’s gross domestic product!!! In 2 years, only 0,15%! In one year, it comes out to 2 times less – USD 14.5 billion or 0,075% of EU GDP.

The NATO standard for defence is 2% of GDP. The EU says that it will “stand together with Ukraine for as long as it takes” and that the Ukrainian war is also “our” war, but it spends only 0,075% on this “our” war.

Ukraine will spend 26% of its GDP on this war in 2023, Russia 6% and the EU only 0,075%. A staggering difference!!!

Of course, there are countries such as Lithuania (leading), Estonia, Latvia or Poland, which have already allocated 1% or even more of their GDP to military aid, but the overall level of EU military aid to Ukraine looks dismal – 0,075%.

Of course, the European Union is providing a lot of money for Ukraine’s macro-financial support, or in other words, for the financing of other expenses in the Ukrainian budget, but this does not change the fact that the only way to win a war is to finance a military victory. Wars are not won by political declarations of solidarity alone.

United States military aid to Ukraine has reached USD 42,10 billion in 2 years. Not much better than the EU support. In one year of war, US support amounts to only USD 21 billion or 0.10% of GDP.

Once the individual figures are broken down, the overall picture of the war’s “bookkeeping” can be seen, which reveals the main reason for the stalemate in this war on the Eastern Front.

As has already been shown, Russia’s military expenditure in 2023 is estimated at USD 100 billion. Maybe more.

Ukraine’s military spending is USD 44 billion. The European Union adds USD 14,5 billion to this, and the US another USD 21 billion. To this could be added the figures for British or Norwegian aid (not included in the EU statistics), but these do not change the substance.

So, the total amount of funds Ukraine, the EU and the US have allocated in 2023 to militarily counter Russian aggression is only USD 79,5 billion. This is less than the USD 100 billion allocated by Russia for the same purpose this year.

One can remember that the US and the EU are 25 times more economically powerful than Russia. But Russia is spending 6% of its GDP on this war, while the EU and the US are spending only 0,075% and 0,10% respectively. That is to say, Russia is devoting 60-80 times more of its economy to this war than the US or the EU.

I stress, 60-80 times more!

This is why the war is stalling in the trenches: because Russia is clearly winning against the West on the front of its economic mobilisation for war.

This overall picture of the financial “bookkeeping” of the war also makes clear what is needed to avoid a disastrous trench war on the Eastern military front: this requires victory on the political front in the West. And this is one of the most important geopolitical tasks for Lithuania. Lithuania must not only worry about its own bilateral support for Ukraine, but also about how to build a coalition of like-minded and like-supporting countries (the Baltic States, Poland, Scandinavia, the UK) and how to persuade the rest of the West to follow our example.

I can say again and again what I have said many times before: It is important for Lithuania today to take care and fight on the Western front to ensure that Russia is defeated at Kherson and Kharkiv, and not just to accept the current situation of “trench warfare” in Ukraine, and to think now only about how we will defend Vilnius when Putin comes to us after victory in Ukraine.

Russia will lose in Ukraine if we win in the West. That is the alpha and omega of our defence and security strategy. This requires that we stop just watching military developments in
Ukraine like the self-righteous actors or neutral experts, we need to start to “fight” in the European Council in Brussels and Washington and in other Western outposts for real and much larger investment into Ukraine’s defense, in order to guarantee that Ukrainian military efforts are financed 2 or 3 times more than Russia is able to finance it’s own. I have not heard anything so far about such fights for such purposes on the Western front and about building coalitions for our victories on that front.

We will be talking about the new battles ahead on the Western Front and Ukraine’s future victories at a high-level conference in the European Parliament organised by the U4U (United for Ukraine) coalition this coming Tuesday, 28 November. We started the U4U coalition on the first day of the war in order to win the battles on the Western Front. Because only then will Ukraine finally win.

And we will achieve it!


MEP Andrius Kubilius: “We need to do all we can to make sure that Ukraine wins. For our own good.”

Andrius Kubilius, a Lithuanian MEP of the Group of the European People’s Party, chair of Euronest and a member of the EP’s key Committee on Foreign Affairs, has always underscored the danger for all of Europe of an authoritarian Russia. Some would downplay the caveats as exaggeration, some would heed the warnings without taking any action. But, now, the former Lithuanian Prime Minister feels having been far-seeing. “It is in the core interests of the EU to accept Ukraine, Moldova and Sakartvelo (Georgia), and then a democratic Belarus, in the bloc – their success would push Russia to transforming  itself also,” the MEP told The Baltic Times Magazine.

Ukraine has been seeing un unprecedented wave of support. Yet what do you believe has been omitted, especially by the European Union, to prevent war in Ukraine?

Indeed, I have been telling my colleagues for years now that Russia has been dangerous as such and will remain a menace to all for the foreseeable future, unless it is helped to transform to democracy. Unfortunately, far from all heeded the warnings and that led to the war.

Since the beginning of the war most EU decisions regarding Ukraine were ad hoc, i.e. addressing the concrete situation. In terms of assistance to Ukraine, it is the United States, not the European Union that takes the leader’s position.

Although eight Russian sanction packages are in place, the next step for the European Union, I believe, should be systemic decisions, especially considering that war can take place longer than most expect. This means that the European nations need to plan their Ukraine-aimed ammunition production and logistics, long term financing, etc. If they do this, they will not need to search for them frenetically in their stockpiles when a conflagration like this breaks out.

Speaking of the sanctions, I believe they do effect Russia, especially the first ones, which effectively stopped Russian gas and oil exports. Let me remind you that, before the war, Russia’s gas export to the European Union amounted to 41% and, as of the time of the interview (it took place on October 12 – TBT) it is at a mere 7.5% and continues to edge down.

Russia’s high-tech imports have also been dealt a big blow – some of the technologies, like the Taiwanese chips which are necessary in the production of Russian weaponry, are just no longer available and are hardly replaceable with the local production. No wonder that, now, to believe the press, Russia uses the derelict Soviet-era kukuruzniks (the Russian word is derived from “kukuruza”, maize. During the Soviet era, it was used as a nickname for the utility aircraft used extensively in agriculture – TBT) in war.

The European Union will likely adopt new sanction packages against Russia, but, understandably, they will not be anywhere as harsh and inflicting damage to its core economic interests as the first ones. Simply because there is little left to sanction.

In the European Parliament, I have been insisting on setting up ad hoc an international Special Tribunal for Russian crimes of war aggression. It would be different than those existing courts already, like that in Hague, which are in charge of war crimes mostly.

You have always been known for your tough stance on Russia – even in much better times. Here in your MP bureau, I see the sheet of paper on the stand – likely to have been used by you for a small number of your visitors – with the inscription in capital letters “How to stop Putin?” written by hand. Is he stoppable? And as a member of the EP Committee on Foreign Affairs, can you be sure that with a change of regime, the new Russian leader will be more predictable and democratic?

Let me state the status quo we have now: with the help of the West, Ukraine has stopped Russia. That’s first. Secondly, it appears Russia’s military might is nowhere where Russia had claimed it to be. Thirdly, until the recent Russian bombardment of civil Ukrainian objects – a desperate move by the perpetrator, Ukraine was gaining momentum as its military capabilities are strengthening. What I now see as essential in securing Ukraine’s advancement is providing it with the weaponry it needs.

The implementation of the above-mentioned Tribunal would also help many Russians understand Putin’s guilt. And only after that Russians can take on the dream of a new life, marked with liberties, respect and responsibility.

There are no reasons to believe that the Russians, likewise the Ukrainians and the Belarusians, do not want to live a normal life – a European life, marked with democracy and with peace.

I do believe Russia can take the path after Putin is gone. Obviously, at this point, no one can be sure how the war will evolve in the weeks and months to come, but we need to exert all effort to help Ukraine win it, as only its victory can foster a transformation in Russia – for good. Also, it may help Russians get rid of the ostensible imperial glory of Russia, an idea that Putin insistently foists on his country fellows, but which, in fact, leads to a tragedy for the country. Especially under Putin – the war is instigating various disintegrational processes within Russia itself. We see that happening already.

I do believe that if Ukraine succeeds – wins the war and rebuilds itself successfully and turns into a sustainable state, that would be the best impetus for Russians to seek change and follow the Ukrainian example. In case Putin lasts that long (to see Ukraine’s success – TBT), the Ukrainian success story would be very dangerous for him and his regime.

I believe the European Union has to try all the ways to reach out to Russia’s Democratic forces – the bulk of them live in the West – now. In doing so, we will ensure the whole country’s transition to democracy. Already now the ordinary Russians should know what their lives will look like once Russia and the European Union start cooperating on the basis of democracy. Due to the immensity of Russia, we cannot propose an EU membership for it perhaps, but in return to its abiding by law we can propose it free trade and a visa-free regime.

I understand this may sound like a fantasy to some, but there can be a new reality – sooner or later. Of course, perhaps no one can rule out that a more ruthless leader can emerge once Putin ends his rule, but not to try to help Russian transformation would be strategic mistake on our side.

As a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) and as Lithuania’s former Prime Minister under whom the idea of construction of a liquefied natural gas terminal in Lithuania was born, are you concerned about possible energy shortages and record-high prices this winter?

The bulk of the possible problematic issues lies in Germany’s significant dependency on Russian gas until very recently. To be exact, until the war, over 50 percent of Germany’s gas supply was of Russian origin. I can only regret that the Germans did not follow in the footsteps of Lithuania, which built its liquefied natural gas terminal in 2010 – 2014. On the contrary, the Germans insisted that Gazprom is a reliable partner and the whole relation was purely economic.

Obviously, Germany is now compelled to scramble to reverse the policy and find new energy sources – as quickly as possible. The challenge it is facing will definitely impact the whole energy situation in Europe. However, I am convinced that, at the end of the day, it is the European Union, not Putin, that will come out victorious from the Putin-launched energy war. As we speak, roughly 90 percent of European gas storages are filled and the Russian gas imports are historically low, as I said, in single digits. Until recently, due to the energy war, Putin thought that he will make the Europeans subservient, but we clearly see that he failed. The energy crisis will also prompt the European Union to switch to renewables faster. I have no doubt that the Baltics and Lithuania will also feel the big impetus for green energy. Unfortunately, Lithuania failed to build a safe state-of-the art nuclear power plant. I still believe that scrapping the idea was a mistake. Yet Lithuania has made a big step forward in harnessing solar and wind energy – just in 10 years or so, it can be one the greenest EU nations.

You’re chair of the European Parliament’s Delegation to the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly (PA). How is the war effecting EU cooperation with the Euronest’s six countries, Ukraine, Moldova, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus and Sakartvelo (Georgia), all of which are on very different terms with the EU?

Indeed, on the one hand we have Ukraine, Moldova and Sakartvelo that eye EU memberships – the former has been granted the EU’s candidate status. Then, on the other hand, we have Armenia and Azerbaijan that are shedding blood in Nagorno Karabakh and, then, we see Belarus with an illegitimate president. I do believe that the war in Ukraine will be sort of an eye-opener for the European Union. Because of the reliance on Russian gas until recently, the EU did not have a clearly outlined policy towards Ukraine and the other Eastern Partnership countries. Now, we have a new reality – generally, we see less fear of Putin, although the war still rages and can drag out and spill over the borders. I think it is in the core interests of the EU to accept Ukraine, Moldova and Sakartvelo in the bloc – even until 2030, which, with their success, would remove them from the Russian orbit for good.

And when it comes to Belarus, Lithuania’s immediate neighbor, the victory of Ukraine over Russia will have a huge effect on it – to an extent, where change of the regime will be inevitable.

Sadly, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the Belarusian opposition leader, is in a way overshadowed by the war. But as we speak, she is to visit the European Parliament – we need to discuss with her what Belarus’ transition to a democratic Belarus will look like. Its long-range goal should also be an EU membership, which would create much more stability and security in the region and in all of Europe.


EPP proposal for Resolution on Recognising the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism

The European Parliament is moving forward with the adoption of the resolution on recognising the Russian Federation as a state sponsor of terrorism. The adoption is planned in the plenary meeting next week in Strasbourg. Political groups have already presented their suggestions and expect to finalise the text this Thursday (November 17) or Friday (November 18) at the latest.

The draft resolution as proposed by the EPP Group in the European Parliament.



R. Juknevičienė, J. Lenaers. War crimes in Ukraine: create a special tribunal for Putin and Lukashenko

Since the war began in Ukraine, more than 10,000 incidents of alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity have been registered and 600 suspects identified. Amnesty International said on 25 February that the Russian attacks on the cities of Vuhledar, Kharkiv Uman, Mariupol and many more places were likely to constitute war crimes. We all saw the horrific pictures of Bucha where more than 400 civilian corpses were discovered. A court in Ukraine has sentenced a Russian Tank Commander to life imprisonment for killing a civilian at the first war crimes trial since the war of aggression began. Nevertheless, the Russian Government denies it has been targeting civilians.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has already sent investigators and forensics specialists to the country. In addition, the responsible authorities of Ukraine, Poland and Lithuania have set up a Joint Investigation Team, which is supported by Eurojust and the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC in the Hague, to collect evidence on alleged core international crimes committed in Ukraine with a view to prosecuting them.

Europe has failed on its promises of “never again”. Similar atrocities that we witnessed in Hitler and Stalin times are happening now on the European continent, in Ukraine. Serious offences such as murder, rape and the torture of children, men and women, forced deportations, and mass persecutions have been repeatedly reported. The list is long: rape, torture, taking hostages, bombing residential areas and civilian infrastructure, forcibly deporting civilians to the territory of the Russian Federation, including Siberia – the area to which millions were deported by the Soviet regime. The atrocities committed by Russian soldiers in Ukrainian cities are shocking. It seems that the Kremlin is deliberately seeking to exterminate people because they are Ukrainian. We cannot accept this in Europe today. What can we do to stop this suffering?

Of course, it is important to charge a soldier for committing a war crime but it is of the utmost importance to hold accountable the political leader who ordered this illegal and unprovoked war as well as the military Commanders and their allies. President Putin and his proxy Lukashenko must be held accountable and tried.

It is clear that the current legal instruments are not enough to punish those who started this unprovoked war of aggression. The democratic world must find a way to bring perpetrators to justice, as was done in Nuremberg after World War II.

Today, war crimes and crimes against humanity committed during Russia’s war against Ukraine are being investigated by the ICC. Unlike other core international crimes, the ICC is facing objective difficulties in gaining jurisdiction over the crime of aggression – and this is for a variety of reasons. Therefore, we need to fill the gap and establish a Special Tribunal which would have specific jurisdiction over the crime of aggression against Ukraine.

Negotiations are continuing on how to actually set up such a tribunal so that it has comprehensive legitimacy. This could be done either through an international body like the United Nations or under the auspices of a collection of individual states, as was the case with the Nuremberg tribunal, which was established after World War II by the Soviet Union, the United States, the United Kingdom and France.

The European Parliament voted to extend the mandate of Eurojust, the EU Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation, and gave it new powers. These new powers will allow the agency to preserve, store and analyse evidence related to war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. Due to the ongoing hostilities, there is a risk that evidence relating to war crimes or crimes against humanity cannot be safely stored on the territory of Ukraine and therefore it is appropriate to establish central storage in a safe location.

Under the new rules, Eurojust could also process data related to these types of crimes and share the data with the ICC and other international organisations, as well as EU Member State authorities.

However, the extension of the Eurojust mandate covers only three of the four crimes recognised in the Rome Statute, the cornerstone of the ICC, therefore, we also need to adjust the Eurojust mandate to include the crime of aggression.

There cannot be any impunity for war crimes in Ukraine. The people that are responsible for this must face justice. The international community has to take all possible actions in order to punish the perpetrators and restore justice so that “never again” doesn’t remain an unfulfilled promise.


Andrius Kubilius. Ukraine and a Europe tired of being itself

The war has been going on for more than 100 days. And it could go on for hundreds more. It is time to change from sprinting to marathoning. Victory requires not only physical strength but also the right emotional state, long-distance thinking, and even breathing.

And above all, Europe needs this. Not Ukraine, not the United States, not Britain, but the European Union (Europe) needs to get its long-term thinking right and its eyes on victory. In a long marathon. Because Europe is the weak link that Putin is targeting: maybe Europe will falter, maybe it will continue to be more concerned with saving Putin’s face than Europe’s own.

Europe is heterogeneous. There is the Old Europe, which has created a zone of comfort through its work after that war and which sees today’s war not as a security challenge but as an irritant, as an assault on its familiar comfort. For such a Europe, Ukraine is somewhere far away and outside that comfort zone. And there is the New Europe: still unaccustomed to success and comfort, seeing Ukraine as “one of us” and seeing the war as an assault on the existential foundations of its new life built over the last 30 years.

In the near future, Old Europe will inevitably have to wake up from its comfort zone. And together with New Europe, seek answers to the familiar questions posed by this war: who is to blame and what to do? And to agree on answers.

The most important question for Europe in the next decade will be the question of Ukraine. Because therein lies the answer to the other two important questions: What will be the Europe of the future (in what environment will it exist?), and what will Russia be like, even after Putin?

Without an answer to these questions, Europe will return to business as usual, not only in its relations with Putin but in all the other geopolitical failures of the EU in these decades, which led to war. Such business as usual will only mean that the threats to European comfort will only accumulate and grow.

Therefore, Europe must first of all correct its mistake, which has been ongoing for decades: Europe must finally have its own “Ukraine Strategy”. For only in this way can both important questions be properly answered.

We know that Putin has his own “Ukraine Strategy”, which is simply to destroy Ukraine to prevent it from becoming a successful state. The example of Ukraine’s success could inspire ordinary Russians, which would be deadly for the Kremlin regime.

We know that thanks to Putin’s aggressiveness, the Ukrainians have acquired and have their own clear “Ukraine Strategy”: to defend themselves against Russian aggression and, as quickly and as far as possible, to escape geopolitically to the West.

Meanwhile, what is the “Ukrainian Strategy” of the West and, in particular, of Old Europe? This is still not clear either to Old Europe or to Ukraine. When there is no strategy, there are no solutions.

However, it is hoped that a prolonged war will force Europe to finally get its strategy into its own thinking and implement it ambitiously.

This will require Europe to realise its mistakes to date and to set about correcting them strategically. New Europe will have the difficult task of helping Old Europe understand its mistakes and propose how they should be corrected. But, more importantly, it will have to do all this in such a way as to reach an agreement with Old Europe.

What should be a European “Ukraine strategy”?

The answer could be very short: Ukraine must be a full member of the European Union in 2030. And fully rebuilt after the war.

Some may start explaining, like the Dutch prime minister, that the process of Ukraine’s accession to the European Union will take much longer, perhaps even several decades. But this will only show that anyone who talks like this has still not grasped the mistakes Europe has made so far and still has no “Ukraine strategy”.

Why is Ukraine’s membership of the European Union and the rapid reconstruction of Ukraine important for Europe itself?

Because this is the only way in which Europe can influence the transformation of the European continent into a peaceful and secure continent, which today is most threatened by the authoritarian, fascist regime of the Kremlin. Because Ukraine’s membership in the European Union will radically expand the space for success and democracy on the European continent, this will ultimately lead to the transformation of Russia and Belarus.

For these reasons, Ukraine’s membership in the European Union is necessary first and foremost for the European Union itself, not just for Ukraine.

And this is the first fundamental mistake of the European Union, which it must correct immediately. Democratic Europe must regain its hunger for expansion, for the expansion of the democratic space, because this is the only possibility of preserving and expanding the space of European prosperity.

Otherwise, on its fringes, a space of oriental decadence, chaos and authoritarianism, which is degenerating into fascism, will only expand, and this will be an ever-greater threat to Europe itself.

It is, therefore, high time for the European Union to change its philosophical approach to the neighbourhood and to enlargement because this is the main cause of Europe’s geopolitical mistakes to date: until now, in Old Europe, it has been assumed that countries such as Ukraine, Moldova, or the Western Balkans are some kind of foreign beggars asking to be admitted to the club of the rich, but that the club itself is unwilling to admit such beggars, and it has invented a hundred criteria and excuses to justify itself publicly in order to justify this. That is why Old Europe is arguing about whether such countries deserve to be called candidates. And if they do, they then look for any reason to indefinitely delay the so-called accession negotiations. This is the philosophy of “geopolitical laziness”, which has been cultivated by Old Europe over the last decades that, and ultimately led to war.

This European philosophy of “geopolitical laziness” must be replaced by a philosophy of “geopolitical courage and development”. The European Union has no choice but to repeat the history of the 19th-century expansion of the United States into the Wild West. This is how the current greatness and prosperity of the United States were created, as European Anglo-Saxon culture spread boldly across the North American continent. Only unlike the history of the United States, Europe today does not need to fight and conquer Indian lands in the Wild West. Because Europe’s neighbours to the East do not want to resist the expansion of the European Union; on the contrary, they want to become members of it. They themselves are fighting for this right and opportunity. Therefore, the very philosophy of enlargement of the European Union should be renamed from the “process of accession to the European Union” to the “process of reunification with the European Union”, in which both sides want to be united because they see in this a huge mutual strategic purpose and benefit.

When Europe and Ukraine start to look at how to simply “reunify” and not just integrate, apply for candidacy, etc., then all the processes of Ukraine becoming a member of the European Union will make the right geopolitical sense. Then the real European “Ukraine strategy” will be born – a strategy for realising such reunification.

But for such a European “Ukraine strategy” to become a reality, we need to talk not only about the need to change the development philosophy. In the last few decades, Europe, committed to the philosophy of “geopolitical laziness”, has developed a whole series of pseudo-arguments to justify its laziness and the supposed loss of its “appetite for development”. Some of these arguments are made in public, some are not, but still influence the political decisions of old Europe. Even after the war. These arguments deserve to be named and also to be refuted in an argumentative way because only this will allow Europe to return from “laziness” to a philosophy of “geopolitical courage and development”.

In what follows, I will try to list some of the arguments that have become part of the Old European lexicon and have become clichés as to why Ukraine cannot become a member of the European Union within the next decade. Such clichés have to be destroyed by their own arguments by showing that they are completely unfounded

– The enlargement of the European Union will provoke Putin’s aggression. It should be noted that the “non-expansion” of the European Union, the fear of offering Ukraine a much more ambitious prospect of membership in the European Union, has provoked the Kremlin’s military aggression. The Kremlin believed that Ukraine, left in a “grey area”, was easy prey.

– Ukraine’s membership in the European Union, and its reconstruction, will cost European taxpayers dearly. On the other hand, the enlargement of the European Union has brought many economic benefits to Old Europe. The reconstruction of Ukraine will create many new jobs, not only in Ukraine but also in Europe itself. Ukraine is a resource-rich country, and becoming part of the common European economy will enrich Europe rather than impoverish it.

– Ukraine is not in line with the European value system: corruption is rampant, and the rule of law is broken. No one disputes that Ukraine has major problems to overcome. However, transparency in governance and a functioning legal system are not the only European values on which Europe rests. In these difficult days, we can clearly see that Ukraine, with its European values of solidarity, leadership, honesty, and decency, is closer to the classical European virtues than many other European countries or their leaders. It is possible that in Europe, in addition to the “Copenhagen Criteria” of values, which are applied to those countries that wish to become members of the European Union, we will have to introduce a new “Kyiv Criteria”, which would define the European virtues of political leadership, honesty, decency, solidarity, and by which the citizens of Old Europe could judge the performance of their political leaders.

– The institutions of the European Union are not ready for enlargement. It is clear that Europe is still facing major governance problems. Consensus-based decision-making was not a problem when it came to an agreement among ten or a dozen EU members. When the number of members reaches several dozen and may approach 40 with the new wave of enlargement, such a decision-making mechanism will become completely inadequate. The further we go, the more Hungaries and blackmailers will appear in Europe. Therefore, there can only be one answer to this argument of the opponents of enlargement: let us change institutions and decision-making, but let us not stop enlargement. Peace on the European continent, which can only be guaranteed by further enlargement, is more important than the inability or unwillingness to change any rules.

– European voters are “tired of enlargement” – to the contrary, recent polls show that, in the wake of the war, a majority of European voters support Ukraine’s membership of the European Union. Only the political leaders of individual countries are unwilling/fearful. The leaders do not dare to openly state their arguments as to why they are afraid of it, so one has to guess that there are no serious arguments. There is only a psychological fear that Ukraine’s membership in the EU will create serious competition for the leadership of Old Europe in the EU. And to the political comfort and geopolitical laziness of Old Europe.

These are the arguments of a Europe that are tired of being itself and why it no longer wants to expand. Moreover, they are easily refutable arguments. Between the 1990s and the 2000s, Europe was not afraid to expand. And it was not tired of being itself: of expanding the space of democracy and prosperity to the point where it became the continent of Europe because only this can guarantee lasting peace on the European continent.

After the 2000s, Europe became tired of being itself. It got lazy. Or it got scared of Putin’s Russia and shrank away.

That is what led to today’s war.

Europe’s lazy days are over. The time for lazy comfort is over. Europe will not be able to get out of the geopolitical crisis by Ukraine’s efforts alone. It will have to change its own philosophy. Enlargement is the right response to the challenges of this crisis. Only in this way can Europe become itself again.


R. Juknevičienė. The future of Europe’s security will depend on the democratic world overcoming the brutal Kremlin regime

The EU’s Foreign, Security and Defence Policy after the Russian invasion of Ukraine (plenary debate)

Mr President, I would like to thank my colleagues for this report and their efforts.

The future of Europe’s security will depend on the democratic world overcoming the brutal Kremlin regime and Russia becoming a normal, non-aggressive state. This requires, first of all, acknowledging the fundamental mistakes that have been made so that we do not repeat them again. The Western world has not taken seriously Putin’s plan to destroy democracies. The biggest mistake was engagement with Putin’s regime. Lessons must be learnt.

Secondly, those who say that Russia under Putin must not be humiliated as Germany was humiliated after Versailles are misleading. Today we face Hitler’s analogy, who grew out of Stalin’s unacknowledged crimes and evaluated crimes. The situation now is similar to that of Hitler’s and Stalin’s war in Europe. So we must now defeat Putin as Hitler was defeated.

Eliminating the main threat to the security of the entire European continent is our most important task. This requires helping Ukraine to defend its territory and not being afraid to believe that Russia can be different. The war criminal Putin must be isolated. To have a different Russia, the current regime must be defeated. I have a feeling that some countries of Europe are frightened of Ukraine’s victory and intend to repeat the same mistakes. If they continue to save the face of the brutal Kremlin regime our efforts to build up our own security capabilities will never be enough.



R. Juknevičienė. Putin and Lukashenko must be held accountable and tried by a special international tribunal

The fight against impunity for war crimes in Ukraine (plenary debate)

Mr President, dear colleagues, today is Ukrainian Vyshyvanka Day, so that’s why I am happy to wear a vyshyvanka today.

In 1945 Nazi Germany was defeated and their atrocities were revealed and condemned during the Nuremberg trials. The Soviet Union, from the war it started as an aggressor, ended it regarded as an ally, rewarded with new territories.

An invisible link between Soviet KGB and current Russian leadership is evident also in this community of crime. The legacy of genocide is transferred from generation to generation. The West wrongly decided to please its conscience with silence over Soviet crimes. They were allowed to call themselves the liberators of Europe, despite having committed the same horrendous crimes in the territories they occupied. The exact same narrative is repeated today in Ukraine; the same unimaginable atrocities follow.

But for these outrageous crimes, not only should soldiers be punished, but also their political leaders and military commanders of the Russian Federation, as well as their allies. Also, President Putin and his proxy Lukashenko must be held accountable and tried by a special international tribunal. We therefore call on the EU institutions, in particular the European Commission, to support the creation without any delay of such tribunal and to provide as soon as possible all necessary resources and support for the establishment of this tribunal. Don’t repeat the mistakes of yesterday.


Letter of MEPs to Chancellor Olaf Scholz

On April 23, more than 50 Members of the European Parliament signed a letter to the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr. Olaf Scholz, requesting to take a stronger position in supporting Ukraine and calling for further sanctions on the Russian Federation.

LETTER_to Chancellor O.Scholz.


The purpose of our war

I keep saying that this is our war, not just Ukraine’s. It is the war of the entire democratic Western world against the restoration of the Evil Empire.

If it is the war of the whole West, if it is Our war, then not only the Ukrainians but the whole West must have a clear objective for this war.

Many can say very simply: the main objective of all of us is to bring the war to an end as quickly as possible. That is important. But it is equally important to ensure that there are no more such wars on the European continent. If we do not set this objective for ourselves, then, even if we achieve the immediate cessation of the war, a high probability that such a war will happen again after a while still remains. A strong possibility that the Kremlin will once again rush into Ukraine with a fully recovered army will still remain.

Therefore, our main objective, as well as that of the West, in the war started by Putin, must be very clear: to make sure that the Kremlin and Russia are no longer able and are no longer willing to wage such wars for centuries to come in Ukraine and in the whole Europe.

There is only one way to achieve this, and that is if Russia finally transforms itself into a European-style democracy. Then, only a democratic Russia will no longer be a threat to Ukraine or the entire European continent. Today, any other option (replacing Putin with another Russian dictator) can only temporarily stave off these threats.

It is understandable that “democracy in Russia” for many Westerners today seems like a distant and impossible fantasy. Many will immediately start quoting various opinion polls taken in Russia these days, showing that the majority of Russians support Putin and his war against Ukraine.

However, the results of such opinion polls should not be surprising. It is not even worth talking much about the role of Kremlin propaganda and the ‘zombification’ of the consciousness of ordinary Russians. However, the current success of this ‘zombification’ in Russia does not indicate the continued inability of the Russian people to live under a democracy.

It is worth remembering that before World War II, in Nazi Germany and imperialist Japan, the majority of Germans and Japanese also supported Hitler’s plans to expand eastwards and rejoiced at the occupation of Paris. They also supported Japan’s imperial expansion in the Pacific and in China, and they rejoiced at the success of the Japanese army at Pearl Harbour.

However, both ordinary Germans and Japanese are happy that their countries are strong and stable democracies. And they are not complaining that the democratic world after World War II forced and helped them become democracies because that was the only way to ensure that no one would be tempted to recreate Nazi Germany or imperial Japan, once again threatening the whole world with aggressive wars.

That is why today’s West must also realise that the only path to security and stability on the European continent is democracy in Russia. Any dialogue with Putin or with his appointed successor, who will be an equally, if not more, brutal dictator, will not increase security on the European continent. On the contrary, such dialogues only encourage the dictator to be more insanely aggressive.

The only way toward democracy in Russia after this war is Putin’s complete and total defeat (and Russia he leads) in this war. The same way as such wars were once lost by Nazi Germany or imperial Japan.

This requires not only that the Ukrainians, with the help of the West, crush the Russian army on the battlefield so that it has no choice but to flee the territories occupied by Ukraine (or negotiate the peaceful withdrawal of the entire army in peace talks), but also that Russia gets a taste of its economy completely crushed by Western sanctions.

We in the West must urgently understand what is needed to achieve such a victory in Our war:

First, it needs to be understood uniformly throughout the West already today that this is OUR war, not just Ukraine’s war for its own country. Only such an understanding will make us (not only Lithuania but also the whole West) mobilise all our resources for such a war. We have only voluntarily assisted and supported Ukraine’s efforts to defend itself until now. Volunteering and charity are no longer sufficient – at a recent meeting of the U4U (United for Ukraine) Ukraine Support Network that we had initiated, we heard from Ukrainians that they need to receive 15,000 tonnes of humanitarian food aid every day while they are receiving only 5,000 tonnes delivered by volunteer organisations and donate voluntarily by countries from their stocks. That is certainly not sufficient. An EU-wide mobilisation system is needed (not just for humanitarian aid), but such a system does not exist yet because there is still no understanding that this is Our War.

– Our war requires our victory, with Ukraine playing a pivotal role. In order to achieve victory on the front lines of the war, Ukraine needs Western military support to ensure that it not only defends itself but is also able to defeat the Russian army and to be able to dislodge it from the occupied territories. To do this, Ukraine needs not only defensive but also offensive weapons. Suppose this is really Our war, and we are aiming for victory. In that case, the West should not hesitate to provide Ukraine with such weapons directly from its own warehouses or create lend-lease financing instruments similar to those used by the Americans in the last war. Such financing instruments would now be used to enable the Ukrainians to purchase directly from the Western military industry the weapons they need.

In Our war, one of our most important weapons for our victory is our sanctions: Western sanctions on the Russian economy. Maximum and immediate sanctions: a complete embargo on imports of energy resources, SWIFT sanctions on all Russian banks, the closure of all EU ports to Russian cargo. Russia must realise that this kind of sanctions will really smash its economy. Prominent economic experts calculate that an immediate embargo on oil and gas imports alone would crush the Russian economy, which would shrink by 30-40% a year, while the EU itself would feel little pain, as the Western economies would only handle a maximum negative impact of 2-3%.

– Russia must acknowledge that such crushing sanctions will remain in place until the last occupier leaves the Ukrainian territory. The more soldiers they sacrifice now and the more Ukrainian civilians they kill in order to try to occupy one more Ukrainian town, the more they have to realise that they will have to pay an excruciating price, whether in the form of the enlarged cemeteries of Russian troops in Russia itself, the empty refrigerators today and tomorrow, or in the International Tribunals of tomorrow and the day after.

– Russia must acknowledge today that after a lost war, it will be faced with other medicines known from the history: reparations for the reconstruction of Ukraine; international tribunals for aggression and war crimes, not only for Putin and Lukashenko and their inner circle, whether it is Shoigu or Lavrov but also for the officer who ordered the firing of rockets at a maternity hospital in Mariupol or for the sergeant who aimed and fired a rocket at the administration building of the district of Mykolayiv.

– A deputinized Russia will also be faced with what, after the last war, was called the Marshall Plan and was targeted toward de-Nazified, democracy-consolidating West Germany, led by Adenauer. It is worth remembering that the main objective of the American Marshall Plan in the post-war years was not only to help rebuild the economy of Western Europe, which had been destroyed during the war but also to help strengthen and consolidate the post-war democracy of Europe, which was threatened by the local Communists, supported by Stalin, from the left, as well as by the nostalgia for the Nazi ‘glory’ from the right. Now the West, and the European Union, in particular, will have to worry about how to help those who will seek to return Russia to the path of democratic development after a lost war. This will not be easy, but it is something that the West needs to be talking about today when communicating with potential leaders of future Democratic Russia because this war is the only chance for Russia to become different. The West must do everything in its power to make this possibility a reality.

Therefore in OUR war, we must build on our clear common philosophy and clear goals. Only this approach will allow us to mobilise all our joint efforts:

– Lasting peace and security in Europe is only possible if Russia becomes a stable democracy;

– For this to happen, today’s Russian dictator Putin must painfully lose the war he launched against Ukraine;

– For Putin to lose this war on the Ukrainian battlefields and for his army to be crushed, the West must supply Ukraine with as many weapons as it needs to achieve such a victory for us;

– To crush Russia’s economy in this war, maximum Western sanctions are needed today and must remain in place until Russia admits its defeat and agrees not only to withdraw all of its troops from the occupied territories of Ukraine but also to pay the reparations needed to rebuild Ukraine;

– Russia must acknowledge today that Putin, along with Lukashenko, will be facing the Nuremberg Tribunal after the war, only this time it will take place in either Mariupol or Kharkiv;

Russia must also acknowledge today that after the war, Democratic Russia will face the European Union’s Marshall Plan, entailing normal relations and cooperation between Democratic Russia and the European Union and the entire West. A normal civilised, European way of life awaits Democratic Russia. That is a lot for today’s Russia.

What is needed to achieve such goals and such victories in ‘Our war’, together with Ukraine and the whole of the West, for lasting peace? A clear philosophy and a strategy.

Ukraine deserves respect from all of us. At least they deserve a silent apology. Because this war is also a consequence of the misguided philosophy, the West has been still following in its relations with Russia. The war is the consequence of the West’s indifference or naivety. And it is no longer sufficient that the West only admits that it has been wrong for a long time and that we, Central Europe and the Baltic States, were right to warn against Putin.

What is needed now? Those who have dominated the European Union’s relations with Putin’s Russia over the last decades, the West’s main ambition all along being ‘a dialogue with Putin’, those Western policy-makers of the West’s policy that has ended in a crash and the war, must sit down ‘on the bench’. They must sit down at least for one phase of this war. Germany, France, Austria and the South of Europe should realise that the United States, the United Kingdom, Central Europe and the Baltic States must take the lead in shaping a decisive Western policy towards Putin’s Russia. They should realise that it is very important to listen to the voice of Ukraine in shaping such a policy. This is the voice of the new European leaders. The new European leadership comes with new energy. The days of ‘business as usual’ in a jaded and complacent Western Europe are over.

War has been declared on democratic Europe. We will win this war because it is OUR war! But, to achieve that, we will have to put energy and leadership back into the list of European values.



EPP Group Policy Lines for the Immediate Response to the Ongoing Russian invasion and Aggression in Ukraine

On 24 February 2022, with the Russian unprovoked and unjustified war and aggression, which is an international crime on Ukraine, the geopolitical reality in Europe was dramatically altered. Ukraine has so far shown an incredible level of resistance and resilience, denying Russia the ability to fulfil its initial objectives of the war. The European Union reacted swiftly and decisively, introducing unprecedented sanctions hitting Russia and its accomplice, Belarus. All analyses points to the fact that this war will be a long endeavour. Therefore, the pain that the international community is already inflicting on the Russian regime needs to be further increased in order to help end the war as early as possible.

Main policy lines for action:

  1. Delivery of weapons by the EU and Member States and helping Ukraine to defend itself. The EU should further use the European Peace Facility and all other possible means to help with weapons supply;
  2. Safe humanitarian corridors must be provided for civilians fleeing the attacks and to boost EU humanitarian aid networks in Ukraine (fuel, food, medicines, energy generators and mobile campuses). Similarly, green land corridors must be opened to bring in to Ukraine anything needed to increase agricultural production (e.g. pesticides, fertilisers) and to bring out of Ukraine all agricultural products that can still be exported.
  3. The time for further sanctions is now:
    • Immediate embargo on Russian oil, coal and nuclear fuel. Gas embargo – as soon as possible.  In addition, immediately reduce consumption and replace with other oil, gas and coal resources. The EU must not be complicit in financing the war;
    • Russian banks involved in the oil and coal trade should also be unplugged from the SWIFT system;
    • Member States should refuse access to all EU ports for ships whose last or next port call is in Russia. Our infrastructure cannot be used to fuel a war machine;
    • Member States should expel Russian ambassadors stationed in their countries in order to minimise Russian diplomatic presence to the least possible;
    • Sanctions on Belarus need to mirror those introduced against Russia in order to close any loopholes for Putin to use the aid of Lukashenko to circumvent sanctions (for example, on banks and on oil product exports);
    • Introduction of secondary sanctions on all those entities that will aid the Russian and Belarussian regimes to circumvent sanctions;
    • The positions taken by some countries to support or abstain to condemn the regime of Putin and the aggression must have consequences;
    • Sanctions shall only be lifted when the last soldier of the occupying forces leaves Ukrainian territory according to an agreement concluded with the constitutional Ukrainian Government.
  4. Ukraine’s candidate status: Following the official EU Membership application by Ukraine, submitted on 28 February 2022, and the conclusion of the European Council of 10 and 11 March, which found that Ukraine belongs to our European family, the European institutions should work towards realising the promise of granting Ukraine candidate status without any delay, in order to also avoid the legitimate aspirations of Ukraine and its citizens being victims of the hostile demands that they are currently confronted with; furthermore, they should work towards its accelerated integration into the EU Single Market, according to the formula “everything but institutions” and  along the lines of the Association Agreement;
  5. A Marshall-like Plan fund to rebuild Ukraine after the war. This message will give hope to Ukrainians. The fund should be generous and financed by the EU, Member States, donors’ contributions and Russia’s compensation for war damages, including those Russian assets confiscated/seized as a result of sanctions in accordance with international law;
  6. Name Putin and Lukashenka as “war criminals”. We call for legal proceedings within the framework of international law to investigate and prosecute any acts, which legally qualify as a war crime;
  7. Russia after Putin – we must work with the Russian people. We must demonstrate that the EU is ready to help a future democratic Russia. The Russian opposition faces difficulties now to continue its work – not only because of Putin’s repressions, but also because of the effects of Western sanctions. It needs to feel that we are ready to again invite a democratic and responsible Russia to the community of nations.