2024.03.24

Europe must be able to defend itself on its own

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

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

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

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

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

2024.03.13

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

2024.02.20

EPP Group position paper on the EU Plan for the victory of Ukraine

The European People’s Party  has always been and will continue to be the leading European political force standing together with the Ukrainian people. We continue to lead EU initiatives aimed at supporting Ukraine with military, humanitarian, and financial assistance, aiding  the reconstruction efforts and helping Ukraine prepare for integration to EU and NATO.

At this moment the biggest concern and challenge for the EU and the Western world is ensuring long-term military support sufficient for Ukraine to achieve victory and to defeat Russia. Despite the West’s economic strength being 25 times than that of Russia’s, the Western military support provided during the last years prevented Ukraine from  defeat, but was not enough to win the war.

There is an urgent need to overhaul the Western system of military support to Ukraine, which until now was based on individual countries making voluntary decisions regarding military assistance. Our system needs to be transformed into one  based on collective decisions and obligations to deliver the necessary support for Ukraine to prevail and win the war. It should also include a collective decision regarding the ramping up of the EU military industry to produce what is needed for defence and victory of Ukraine in the nearest future.

To address these issues, the EPP Group proposes that the  EU institutions  urgently develop “The EU Plan for the Victory of Ukraine.” This Plan would provide the framework for collective EU decisions and the implementation of urgent steps for military assistance to Ukraine necessary for its victory. This position paper presents the basic information and arguments for the preparation of such a Plan.

Read the paper in pdf.

2024.02.19

Andrius Kubilius. The West, Lithuania and Europe’s Eastern Area: the Strategic Importance of the “Transformation Triangle” for Europe’s Destiny

I started writing the text on the “Transformation Triangle” some two weeks ago. The term “Transformation Triangle” itself came to mind even earlier, during a visit to Washington in November 2023, when I was looking for an answer on how the West can realistically help Russia to get rid of the Putin regime and to gradually return to the path of democracy.

The idea that we must explain to the West that Ukraine’s military and geopolitical (integrationist) victories are the only way how the West can help Russia’s transformation has long been with me. And Ukraine’s victories are the sole responsibility of the West. For only with sufficient Western support for Ukraine can such victories be achieved, and with it the opportunity to bring about transformation across the wider Eastern area of the European continent. So far, Ukraine has not received such a sufficient support.

I started telling and writing this even before the war.

I started writing this text, which I planned as a summary of my thoughts, a couple of weeks ago. I finished it on the day that the shocking news reached us all – Putin had killed Navalny.

Navalny fought for his dream of a “wonderful Russia of the future” (“прекрасная Россия будущего”): a normal, European, democratic Russia. This is the prospect of Russia that many Russians still believe in. This was demonstrated by the huge queues of Russians willing to sign up to Nadezhdin’s candidacy in the so-called presidential “elections”.

Putin killed Navalny. He  killed Navalny,  because Navalny had a dream. Putin killed a man, but it is impossible to kill a dream. It has a life of its own and it will one day become a reality.

When that happens, depends not only on ordinary Russians, on the opposition to Putin or on Russian civil society. It is up to us and it is up to the West as a whole. We have in our hands the most important instrument to help Navalny’s dream become a reality. These are the Ukrainian victories, which depend only on the Western support.

Putin will lose. He will be crushed first in Ukraine and then in Russia.

Putin’s defeat is our task and our job. This requires a long-term and holistic Western strategy. I have tried to set out some of the elements of such a strategy in this text.

“The wonderful Russia of the future”: a normal, European, democratic Russia is not only Navalny’s dream, which will live on. It is also our dream, because the existence of the whole of Europe depends on its realisation – whether we will ever be able to live in a stable peace without the threat of a post-imperial, authoritarian, aggressive Russia. To protect ourselves against such a threat, we need to invest not only in NATO’s “deterrence and defence” strategies, not only in our own  military capabilities in Lithuania, but also in the realisation of Navalny’s dream, in the implementation of the long-term strategy of the “Transformation Triangle”. Because only the “Transformation Triangle” will destroy the very source of the threat.

We say goodbye to Alexei Navalny. But our struggle will continue. Dreams never die.

***

Ukraine’s war against Russia is not yet going the way the Ukrainians and all of us would like. Since the beginning of the war, Western support for Ukraine has been just enough to enable Ukraine not to lose, but the support of only that level has prevented Ukraine from achieving victory. It is enough to remember just one figure: in 2023, Russia has spent more than EUR 100 billion on financing the war, while the Ukrainian side, with the full weight of the West’s support for Ukraine’s defence, has managed to mobilise resources worth only EUR 80 billion, of which as much as EUR 40 billion were Ukraine’s own resources.

Total Western military support to Ukraine in 2023 was less than 0.1% of Western GDP. After all, the economic potential of the West is 25 times that of Russia.

So, the West is rich enough that, with its vast resources to support the heroism of the Ukrainian soldiers, it could easily have ensured that Russia had already lost the war.

But this didn’t happen. Russia has not yet lost the war. And in truth, it still remains to be seen how Ukraine will be able to achieve victory in this war in the coming years. Because it is not likely that Western support will increase dramatically in the short term.

Here we have the first strange paradox in the behaviour of the West: a number of Western leaders, politicians and military men, seeing that Ukraine is still not winning the war, do not shy away from loudly lamenting this, and do not shy away from publicly predicting that a Russia that has not been crushed in Ukraine will be ready to attack some NATO country in 5 or 6 years. However, this overwhelming feeling on the part of Western leaders does not in any way translate into a decision to provide greater military support to Ukraine, which would enable Ukraine to win the war, to crush Russia and, at the same time, to remove the threat of its aggression against the West.

Why is that?

The answer is clear: because Western support has so far lacked the strategic ambition to achieve such a victory.

Why does the West still not dare to be ambitious for victory?

Because they are contemplating the goal of victory over Russia with a mood of negativity and fear rather than with a positive ambition that such a victory of Ukraine and the West would be good not only for Ukraine, but also for Russia itself and its prospects, would be good for the whole of the eastern area of the European continent, and would be good for the West itself, because it would create the conditions for a stable peace in the European continent.

It is clear that the ambition to achieve a Ukrainian victory for the West has so far was absent, because a large part of the West is simply afraid of such a Ukrainian victory.

First, the West fears that its ambition to see Russia defeated could provoke Putin to escalate the war, perhaps even to the point of using nuclear weapons. The West is therefore opting for the tactic of a slow “froggy boil”, only gradually increasing Ukraine’s military potential, in the hope that this will avoid the risk of escalation, and that Russia will eventually be exhausted and will decide to pull out of the war itself. However, this “slow-boil” tactic has the potential to “exhaust” the West’s own support for Ukraine in the first place. We are already seeing signs of this in the deliberations of the US Congress.

Secondly, the West fears what consequences such a Ukrainian victory might have for Russia itself. It is feared that a Ukrainian victory will result in the collapse of the Putin regime and that it will be replaced by even more aggressive “nationalists” rather than by some Russian democrats (because the West does not believe in Russia’s democratic prospects). There is also the fear of a post-Putin Russia breaking up into separate, conflicting entities, leaving it unclear who controls Russia’s nuclear weapons. More recently, the famous Elon Musk has been voicing such fears to members of the US Senate.

Sometimes it seems that the goal of a Ukrainian victory alone is not geopolitically and psychologically sufficient for the West to overcome such fears. That is why the West remains so “lukewarm”. They are also lukewarm in their military support for Ukraine.

All these fears, together with the usual short-sightedness and lack of leadership, prevent the West from seeing the completely new European horizons and perspectives that a Ukrainian victory could open up, as well as from seeing positive horizons that require a positive and strong Western strategic ambition.

Therefore, we, those of us who are striving for a Ukrainian victory, must also help the West to see the much broader horizons that only a Ukrainian victory can open up. Only in this way can we awaken the West’s ambition to achieve such a victory in Ukraine, only in this way can we help the West to free itself from fears about what will happen with Putin, with the Kremlin, or with all of Russia after a Ukrainian victory.

We need to preach to the West a very clear strategic doctrine, which is understandable to the West, and which is important to the West as a whole, and not just to us (or to our region), and which will help the West to understand the significance of the new horizons that will be opened up by the Ukrainian victory, and the meaning and strategic benefits of this, including for the West.

As French President Macron is fond of saying, today the West (including the European Union) lacks a new “grand narrative”, which makes the West look increasingly weak geopolitically.

Ukraine’s war against Russian aggression allows the West to discover a new “grand narrative”, and this must be the West’s ambition to achieve not only the victory of Ukraine, but also the transformation of the entire eastern area of the European continent.

These new European horizons can be called the horizons of the “Transformation Triangle”. At the top corner of the Transformation Triangle is Ukraine, and in the other two corners of the triangle are Russia and Belarus. The corners of this triangle are historically and geopolitically closely interlinked. Therefore changes at the “corner of Ukraine” will inevitably lead to major transformations in the other corners of the triangle: Russia and Belarus.  It is also called a triangle because if one looks at the point on the map where the borders of Ukraine, Russia and Belarus meet, one can clearly see the geographical triangle formed by the border roads (see photo).

“The Transformation Triangle” is the new “grand narrative” in Europe, because it is the key to the lasting peace in Europe: the neighbourhood of the current European Union, not led by the dictators in Russia and Belarus, but rather with the resurgent and evolving democracies in these countries, is the only chance for Europe to fulfil the formula of G.H.W.Bush: “Europe – whole, free and at peace”. This is the only formula that can guarantee lasting peace in Europe. This requires “freedom” in Russia and Belarus. Only when Russia and Belarus are transformed into territories of democracy and freedom can the old Europe no longer feel threatened by an authoritarian and neo-imperial Russia. Democracies do not fight each other – this is the axiom of a lasting peace on the European continent.

The question Western leaders must answer is simple: do they want chaos, blood and more suffering on the European continent, or do they want a stable peace. Indifference, a “not my business” attitude, an unwillingness to invest in a lasting peace, will only lead to ever-increasing chaos and the threat of war; a stable peace requires political and material investment in the “Transformation Triangle”. “Grand Narratives” only become true “grand narratives” when “grand” political and material resources are also invested in them, and one not merely limits oneself to empty but regularly repeated statements.

The West can bring about a major positive change at the “Ukrainian corner” of the Transformation Triangle, starting with Ukraine’s military victory and ending with the victory of the “Ukrainian success”, which will require both the reconstruction of Ukraine and Ukraine’s EU and NATO membership. The military victory of Ukraine is needed to crush the ideology of the current Kremlin regime’s Russism in Russia and to crush the Kremlin regime itself, thus opening a window of opportunity for political transformation in Russia, while the creation of a “Ukrainian success” through its Euro-Atlantic integration is needed so that the example of such a success can inspire ordinary Russians and Belarusians to strive for the same kind of European-oriented transformation in their countries.

Some in the West fear that such Western efforts to bring about change in the Russian-Belarusian corners of the Transformation Triangle are an implementation of the Western policy of “regime change”, which is supposedly unacceptable for some historical reason. However, this is a completely false fear: yes, we want a political change in Russia and Belarus, we want the fall of both the Putin and Lukashenko regimes, but this will have to be achieved by the Russians and the Belarusians themselves, and we will help the change in Russia and Belarus with our resolute policy of support for Ukraine and with our consistent solidarity with the Russian opposition and civil society.

The Transformation Triangle means that positive transformation in Russia and Belarus can also take place, thanks to the European-designed and supported change at the “corner of Ukraine”. Transformations in Russia and Belarus will be implemented by Russians and Belarusians themselves, but the context and motivation for such transformation will be created by the changes in Ukraine. And the changes in Ukraine, including its victories, can and must be created and influenced by the West. But to do so, the West needs to discover a new “grand narrative” and to realise its ambition for it.

Both Ukraine’s military victory and the integration victory of the “Ukrainian success story” now depend solely on the West’s determination to achieve this. The Ukrainians have long since demonstrated that they have more than enough of determination, while the West has still not shown that it has the Western resolve and determination  to support such Ukrainian victories. And without the West’s resolute support, such Ukrainian victories will not be possible.

What the European Union’s Transformation Triangle strategy must look like? It must consist of five essential parts:

Ukraine’s military victory and Russia’s defeat. The Putin regime and the aggressive ideology of Russism must suffer a severe crushing. The nostalgia of ordinary Russians for imperial grandeur must also suffer a painful defeat. The defeat must be accompanied by an international tribunal and reparations so that the Russians understand the extent of the crimes committed. This may open a window of opportunity for the beginning of a transformation in Russia. A military victory for Ukraine can only be achieved with much greater Western military support.

Reconstruction and European integration of Ukraine (building Ukraine’s economic success). The reconstruction of Ukraine and Ukraine’s integration into the EU Single Market is the only way how the long-term success of Ukraine’s European economy can be built. Reconstruction and European integration will be closely interlinked processes. The economic “miracle” of Central Europe and the Baltic States has been created by the region’s accession to the EU and the EU Single Market: Lithuania’s GDP/capita (PPP) was only 36% of the EU average in 1999, when it started negotiations for EU membership, and now it is 90%. For Ukraine, the same figure now is only 36%. But it has the same potential to reach 90% of the EU average in the next 20 years if the EU is able to implement an ambitious enlargement policy. It should be remembered that no post-Soviet country (in Central and Eastern Europe or in the Balkans) has so far been able to build its success without the EU integration. The EU can create such a success for Ukraine. The contagious example of Ukraine’s success will be the strongest factor that will eventually inspire the Russian and Belarusian people to seek fundamental change at home. The EU would be making a huge geopolitical mistake if it did not pursue an ambitious and rapid enlargement strategy that includes Ukraine. For such a European integration of Ukraine would fundamentally change the whole Transformation Triangle.

Ukraine’s NATO membership. Ukraine’s membership, or at least the invitation to join NATO in the near future, is not only important because it would address Ukraine’s security issue. It is also important because it would help Russia to transform itself. Because such an invitation to Ukraine would mean that Ukraine is no longer left in the “grey” security zone and a clear signal is sent to Russia that Ukraine is no longer within their sphere of its influence. And this, as the famous Zbygniew Brzezinski once very rightly said, would be the greatest support for Russia’s transformation into a democracy: according to Brzezinski, a Russia that retains the ability to rule and influence Ukraine will always remain an empire, and a Russia that loses this ability will be able to become a democracy. The West has all the means to implement Brzezinski’s formula in the near future – all it needs to do is to invite Ukraine to become a NATO member at the next NATO Summit. This will bring about a huge change in the whole Transformation Triangle and it depends only on the determination of the West to help or not to help Russia transform itself.

Support for the Russian and Belarusian opposition and civil society. This is the least the West can and must do in terms of concern for change in the Transformation Triangle. It is also a test of the West’s geopolitical wisdom: the West can only genuinely help the opposition and civil society if it also genuinely believes that democratic change can happen in both Russia and Belarus. If they do not believe this, then all the Western slogans about support for the opposition or civil society are a sham. Moreover, if you don’t believe in the prospects for democracy in Russia or Belarus (and the majority of people in Lithuania and the wider West do not yet believe in such prospects), then you are helping Musk to explain to US congressmen that there is no need to support and work for the victory of Ukraine and Russia’s defeat and the fall of Putin’s regime, because there can’t be a positive transition in Russia after Putin; because the situation will get only worse; because there simply cannot be a positive democratic transition in Russia. So, if you do not believe in the prospects of democracy in Russia, you are helping those who do not want to give Ukraine more weapons, because they are subconsciously afraid of a Ukrainian victory. Therefore, the European Union must put more much efforts in helping the Russian opposition; the EU must believe in Russia’s democratic prospects, and must begin to implement the grand narrative of the Triangle of Transformation, because only then will it no longer be afraid of Ukraine’s victory, and no longer be afraid of giving more weapons to Ukraine.

A “Marshall Plan” for democratic Belarus and Russia. The European Union must say loudly today to ordinary Russians and Belarusians that, after Putin and Lukashenko, they will be able to live a much better life than they are living now. Because the European Union will not allow them to be disillusioned by democratic change in their own countries. It must be announced now that the European Union is ready to help the future young democracies of Russia and Belarus with European special “Marshall Plans” of the 21st century. These will not be bags of money shipped to a democratic Moscow or Minsk, but agreements on free trade, visa-free travel and modernisation partnerships with the EU, which will help the people of those countries to realise the benefits and opportunities of democracy. For a democratic Russia, this will be a realisation of the dream of the murdered Navalny: to build the “wonderful Russia of the future”. And for the democratic Belarus, these are also prospects for the EU integration.  The European Union should already be announcing such plans now, and should be coordinating them with the democratic forces in those countries: it would not cost the EU anything for the time being, but it would already have a tremendous impact on the thinking of the people of the Transformation Triangle.

Can Putin be angry about this Transformation Triangle agenda and the “grand narrative” of transformation being implemented by the West?

Definitely yes.

But ordinary Russians and Belarusians will surely support such a Western agenda.

The question remains: who is the West with – Putin or ordinary Russians and Belarusians waiting for the implementation of the Transformation Triangle strategy?

Europe as a whole needs such a strategy. Because the Transformation Triangle is the key to a stable peace on the European continent.

And the European Union is able to implement such a Transformation Triangle strategy. Through the implementation of an ambitious and victorious strategy in support of Ukraine.

But this requires one condition: that the West stops being afraid of Putin. And that they finally decide that Putin must be crushed in Ukraine – with much greater Western military support for Ukraine.

“Transformation Triangle” on the map:

2024.01.15

Andrius Kubilius. Why Is Ukraine’s European Union Membership Necessary For The European Union Itself?

The decision of the European Council last December to open accession negotiations for Ukraine’ and Moldova’ European Union membership is of particular historical significance. These are not just empty words about the significance of this decision, because Ukraine’s accession to the European Union fundamentally changes the long-term development perspective of the whole European continent. Today, it is particularly important for the European Union itself, its Member States and its citizens to understand that Ukraine becoming a member of the European Union is not some kind of the EU charity for Ukraine, which is struggling hard for its freedom. This is a goal that is important not only for Ukraine, striving for it since the Revolution of Dignity in Maidan in 2013, but also for the European Union itself.

Why is it important for the European Union to understand this? Because the enlargement process of the European Union depends largely on the political will of the European Union itself – in the late 1990s, the EU negotiations with the Central European and Baltic countries lasted 3-4 years and were fruitful, while the integration process of the Western Balkans, which began almost 20 years ago, is not moving at all, because the EU has declared that it is “tired of enlargement” and no longer has a “hunger for enlargement”.

Ukraine’s integration process can and must bring back to the European Union the “hunger for enlargement” and the understanding that such an enlargement is also necessary for the European Union itself, not only for Ukraine. Ukraine’s “hunger” for the EU membership is the major factor, an icebreaker, which forces the EU to change its own attitude to the whole process of enlargement: not only towards to the region of the Eastern Partnership, but also towards the region of Western Balkans. The strategic importance of such an enlargement for the European Union should be made clear by Russia’s war against Ukraine, which started two years ago. Why? Because lasting peace on the European continent can only be achieved if the EU’s efforts fulfill two essential conditions: a) that the West has the political will to provide sufficient military support to Ukraine, thus creating the conditions for Ukraine to achieve a victory over Russia; and b) that the European Union has the political will to do all it can to ensure that Ukraine and other countries from Eastern Partnership and Western Balkan regions become members of the EU by 2030.

Why is this important?

There are three main reasons why the European Union should see Ukraine’s membership by 2030 as its key strategic objective:

1. EU membership is the only way to build Ukraine’s economic success, which is necessary not only for Ukraine but also for the EU itself.

The history of the successful economic development over the last two decades of the Central European and Baltic countries as EU members is a clear evidence that in the post-Soviet space, economic success can only be created if a country has the potential to become an EU member state and, at the same time, part of the EU’s rich Common Market. My country, Lithuania, started negotiations for EU membership in 1999. Negotiations lasted only for 3 years until 2002 and Lithuania became the EU member in 2004. In 1999, Lithuania’s GDP per capita in PPP terms was only 36% of the EU average. After Lithuania became the EU member, its economic development has been so rapid that nowadays the same indicator of Lithuania’s economic development already reaches 90% of the EU average, and Lithuania has not only overtaken many Central European countries, but is also starting to overtake the old EU members in Western Europe.

Ukraine’s economic development is now  at the same level Lithuania had reached in 1999: Ukraine’s GDP/capita in PPP terms is now only 36% of the EU average. For various geopolitical reasons, largely beyond Ukraine’s control, the country has not been able to join the European Union at a time when the Central European and Baltic States have successfully followed this path. This has led to the current enormous economic gap between Ukraine and Central Europe. However, it is necessary to remember that Ukraine in the 1990s was equal in economic development to its neighboring Poland, because Ukraine had, and still has, a strongly developed industrial base, an abundant highly skilled workforce and is extremely rich in natural resources. All this is a clear evidence that if Ukraine were to become a member of the EU, and thus join the EU’s Single Market, it would very quickly replicate the path of Lithuania’s (and other Central European countries’) successful economic development. This means that over the next 20 years upon becoming an EU member, Ukraine would practically catch up with the EU’s average level of economic development. This is what Ukrainians truly deserve. It also means that EU businesses investing in the economy of Ukraine, as an EU member state, would have made huge profits and increased the value of their investments several times over 20 years. An economically wealthy Ukraine would also increase the EU’s own economic power. And of course, an economically successful Ukraine, as a member of the EU, would extend European success and stability far to the East. This would also be a clear strategic benefit for the EU.

2. Ukraine’s EU membership – eliminating security grey areas on the European continent

Since 24 February 2022, the entire European continent, including the European Union, has been living in the context of a huge geopolitical crisis: Russia’s war against Ukraine. One of the reasons why Putin decided to wage the war against Ukraine was that the West had for decades left Ukraine in a “security grey area” with no clear prospects of becoming a member of the EU or NATO. This created a temptation for Putin to believe in the fallacy that the West would not defend Ukraine, leaving it in Russia’s “zone of interests”.

Today it is clear that peace and security on the European continent can only be realized when Russia ceases to be a source of neo-imperialist aggression. There is a famous quote by Z.Brzezinski that Russia, which has the opportunity to control Ukraine, will always remain an empire, and only Russia, which loses this opportunity, will have the chance to become a normal European state. Ukraine’s accession to the EU is therefore also important in the sense that it will remove one of the most dangerous “security grey areas” on the European continent. This will also, in the long term, help Russia to become a normal state. Achieving such a change on the European continent should be the European Union’s most important long-term strategic objective. Ukraine’s accession to the EU is therefore strategically important for the European Union and for the security on the European continent.

3. Ukraine’s success story – an inspiration for change in the wider post-Soviet East

After the 1990s, the post-Soviet space, separated for decades from the democratic Western world by the Iron Curtain, is undergoing an inevitable historical transformation: the values of democracy and the European rule of law are slowly but surely spreading from the western fringes of this space to the eastern spaces, still riddled with authoritarianism and underdevelopment. Central Europe and the Baltic States at the beginning, now Ukraine and Moldova and Georgia (Sakartvelo) are following the same path. Armenia is rushing to follow the example, since it is attractive and contagious, because it is the only way to create success in the post-Soviet space. A normal successful state is what the majority of its citizens naturally want.

By helping Ukraine to become a member of the EU and thus a successful country, the European Union will also create the most powerful geopolitical instrument of its positive influence, because Ukraine’s success will inspire positive change in the populations of Russia and Belarus, South Caucasus and Central Asia, who also want to live in their own normal countries. This is a particularly significant time for the European Union because it has a window of real opportunity, unprecedented in the European continent’s painful history, to help the eastern part of Europe to transform itself and to overcome its underdevelopment. That window of opportunity for the European Union has a very clear name: “Ukraine’s success”. And such a Ukrainian success can only be created by the European Union realising the ambitious plan of “Ukraine becoming a member of the EU”. That is why Ukraine’s membership of the European Union is not only necessary for Ukraine, it is necessary for the European Union itself, it is necessary for change in Russia, Belarus, the South Caucasus and even Central Asia.

If Ukraine’s membership is necessary for the European Union itself, who can prevent it?

While it is clear that Ukraine’s membership is also necessary for the European Union itself, the European Union may well itself be the biggest obstacle on this strategically crucial path. The biggest obstacle is to stop seeing long-term strategic goals through the daily routine. Two problems will potentially rise as the biggest obstacles: a) the EU’s own rules for the enlargement negotiations, requiring the unanimous consent of all EU members at every step of the negotiation process; and b) the fear among the EU’s old-timers (especially in Central Europe) that Ukraine’s economic success could create a great deal of competitive pain for both old and new EU members.

Therefore, for the EU enlargement to be a success story, not only will Ukraine and other candidate countries need to implement reforms, but the EU itself will also have to pass its own “wisdom test”.

To pass this “wisdom test”, the EU will first need to revise the framework and decision-making process of membership negotiations to create rules and procedures that no longer serve as a trap but start to facilitate negotiations. Until now, the EU’s political will for enlargement has been too weak, with bureaucratic traps during negotiations being overly intricate. The absence of enlargement in recent decades, along with Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, are direct consequences of these issues. Now is the time for the EU to demonstrate wisdom.

And secondly, the Central European fear of economic competition with Ukraine’s successful economy is absolutely of the same nature as it was in the 1990s, when Germany and France feared impending competition with the economy and agriculture of Poland. At that time, German and French businesses managed to overcome their fears and began investing in Poland’s economy, from which they reaped huge profits. The same will happen with those EU companies that start investing in Ukraine today. This could primarily be businesses from Central Europe, which will invest in Ukraine and have a vested interest in the success of Ukraine’s integration into the EU because it will create a predictable European business environment. However, if Central European businesses focus only on preventing Ukrainian businesses from entering the EU Single Market, then it will be businesses from Western Europe that will invest, “occupy” the Ukrainian market, and earn huge profits. Central Europe will simply lose out in competition with Western Europe. It’s time for “wisdom” on the Central European side.

*****

The European Union is on the threshold of historic prospects. The name of these prospects is “enlargement”. These prospects will only materialize if the European Union itself understands that expansion is primarily necessary for the Union itself, as only bold enlargement will create the EU’s own success. And for that, the European Union needs to learn to live not just in a paradigm of “fears”, but also of “victories”. Ukraine’s membership in the European Union by the year 2030 will be a historic victory for both Ukraine and the European Union.

2023.12.03

Andrius Kubilius. A Place Of Betrayal For Ukraine And Europe – The Future European Council?

The European Council will meet on 14-15 December. President of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda will also attend. But this will not be an ordinary Council. The decision of the Council in mid-December will be decisive for the future course of European history.

Why?

Because it must decide to approve the European Commission’s recommendation to open formal negotiations with Ukraine (and Moldova) on their future EU membership.

But such a decision may be not taken.

Why?

Because Hungary threatens to block it. Orban does not love Ukraine. But he is friends with Putin. And Austria might block Ukraine if there is no positive decision on Bosnia. And the Netherlands are ready to block Bosnia’s accession. Therefore, all the decisions can be postponed until March next year. And there comes time when the Commission’s mandate ends together with the new European Parliament elections. In addition, Hungary will take over the presidency of the Council of the EU from the middle of the year. And so on.

The corridors of Brussels are full of such rumours and news. They are also full of sad assessments that, despite Russia’s war against Ukraine and the geopolitical crisis facing the entire European continent, EU leaders still do not seem to understand that the EU enlargement is the EU’s most serious geopolitical response to the Russian aggression. As a result, there is as yet no sign of any change from the desperate and sad experience of the last decades of enlargement, when negotiations and enlargement to the Western Balkans were proceeding at a pace that could be likened to a turtle race.

If the European Council adopts the same negotiating and enlargement tactics with Ukraine, where decisions are blocked and delayed while processes proceed at a turtle pace, it will be a betrayal of Ukraine, as well as a betrayal of the whole of Europe. Because the fate not only of Ukraine, but also of the whole of Europe depends on whether Ukraine becomes a member of the EU within the next decade. The European Union’s failure to realise such an enlargement will demonstrate that Europe is unable (or unwilling) to overcome the Kremlin’s resistance to Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic integration. This will be as much a defeat for the West in the face of the authoritarian Russia as the West’s inability to achieve a military victory on the Ukrainian front.

And the fact that the next European Council is on the verge of such a betrayal can be seen in a text published yesterday by Gerald Knaus, a well-known Austrian expert, based in Berlin (who is also well aware of what is going on in the EU capitals), and who heads the influential think-tank “European Stability Iniatitive”. The text is brief, ringing all the alarm bells and stating the prospect of a harsh reality: “How enlargement dies”.

In order to understand why it is necessary to ring all the alarm bells, here is the full text by Gerald Knaus.

But before that, I urge to pay attention to the fact that the alarm bells are being rung by an Austrian expert from Berlin. For some reason, I do not hear a similar passionate understanding of the dangers of “non-enlargement” from experts from the Central Europe or the Baltic States. Nor do I hear such concern from those who attend the European Council meetings. Including those representing Lithuania. What does this mean: are Gerald Knaus’s concerns unfounded; or are those attending the European Council simply indifferent to the prospects for enlargement and to the fate of Ukraine?

Indifference is an alternative name for betrayal.

**********

Gerald Knaus. How enlargement dies (part one)

(published at: https://twitter.com/rumeliobserver/status/1730951944510771378)

Blocking accession talks with Ukraine & Moldova would be disastrous – unfair, destabilizing political madness.

But it looks ever more likely.

Orban blocks Ukraine. If Bosnia is blocked, Austria blocks others. The Dutch block Bosnia. Bulgaria blocks North Macedonia. As for Kosovo or Albania … (others often hide behind those who block)

Only those who paid no attention to the last two decades – and to the Balkans – are surprised by what is starting to hit Ukraine & Moldova. Nothing was more predictable.

Since Croatia joined the EU in 2013, EU member states have played this game with all Balkan candidates.

Kosovo? “A European perspective”. But since it applied for accession: no sound. No response. Silence. But: “do this or that not to threaten your European perspective.”

North Macedonia? “Solve relations with your neighbors”. It did, with Greece. Then France blocked, for no reason at all. Then Bulgaria – with outrageous demands related to history, backed by the whole EU. Now blaming Skopje.

Montenegro? A Nato-member, fully aligned on foreign policy, less than 700.000 people: still beyond EU “absorption capacity.” After 11 years of negotiations the message is: “not before 2030, but probably not even then.” Why?

Albania? For years it was “wait for North Macedonia.” Now it might be blocked by Greece. And when the first chapter is opened, one day, it will still be a decade behind Montenegro in this turtle race.

Bosnia? Too sad to recount. Never ending, ever shifting pre-conditions, more than for any other candidate ever. Meanwhile: impositions of laws by a vice-roy with unlimited powers.

If Balkan states are stuck, it is said that this is because 1. they do not reform. And if they reform, 2. they must wait for EU to get ready and get united. And 3. deal with bilateral vetos. Or wait for others.

All accompanied by never-changing rhetoric: the process is “meritocratic”; “strict but fair”; with “fundamentals first”; about the “rule of law”. Black is white. Words mean little.

What to do?

First: acknowledge reality. Second: design an accession process with a credible goal for all, now. This can still be done.

More:

The turtle race: https://www.esiweb.org/publications/balkan-turtle-race-warning-ukraine

The bus without wheels: https://www.esiweb.org/newsletter/elephants-skopje-balkan-turtle-race-and-ukraine

The hamster wheel: https://www.esiweb.org/publications/hamster-wheel-credibility-and-eu-balkan-policy

Orban on Ukraine: https://www.euractiv.com/section/europe-s-east/news/hungarys-orban-doubles-down-on-blocking-ukraine-accession-talks/

**********

Gerald Knaus’s suggestions on what needs to be changed in the enlargement strategy are practical and easy to implement. I myself have made very similar suggestions publicly, and even some of the European Parliament’s resolutions mention them.

Their essence:

– Part of the Old Europe is afraid of enlargement because the European Union’s institutions and decision-making mechanisms are supposedly not yet adapted to such an enlarged EU. Hungary’s wasteful use of the veto has frightened many, because it is feared that Ukraine, Moldova and the other newcomers from the Western Balkans will do the same with the veto.

– That is why the Old Europe is demanding that, before the next wave of EU enlargement, the EU institutions be reformed and that the veto be removed from the EU decision-making.

– the New Europe, including Lithuania, does not want to give up the veto.

– The EU enlargement process is stuck at this crossroads, and the Central Europe is not willing to sacrifice its veto for the sake of Ukraine’s membership of the European Union (in my opinion, this is a tragic mistake on the part of the New Europe).

– The confrontation and pitfalls of the proponents of such “institutional reforms” v.s. “rapid enlargement” can be avoided if the upcoming European Council hears Gerald Knaus’ proposal (which I wholeheartedly endorse), and decides that in the initial period Ukraine, Moldova and the Western Balkans will be able to negotiate and pursue their membership of the EU’s Single Market (which is a major part of membership of the EU itself), given that membership of the Single Market does not confer the right to participate in the EU decision-making and does not require immediate reform of EU institutions. Similarly, the Scandinavian countries made a similar transition to EU membership in the early 1990s through the intermediate step of Single Market membership.

– This would avoid the notion that enlargement must be linked to the institutional and decision-making reform from the outset; this would reassure the Old Europe; and this would allow the New Europe to enjoy the prospect of enlargement moving out of a decades-long stagnation (which looks set to be prolonged, if the December European Council is as unsuccessful as it at the moment seems to be). The EU candidate countries (Ukraine, Moldova and the Western Balkans) could rejoice that they are on the road to a reliably achievable and practically exceptionally useful goal: membership of the Single Market (membership of the Single Market is what has brought the most economic benefits to Lithuania; the same would be true for Ukraine).

**********

I don’t myself like to make accusations such as “treason”. But I cannot remain indifferent either.

Meanwhile, today, some of those who are involved in decision-making are watching indifferently as the enlargement of the European Union is about to be killed off; others, who are not involved in decision-making, are watching indifferently as those who are going to decide, take over and kill off the enlargement; and then everybody will start to worry and to criticise each other.

When during recent weeks I see how the roads to Ukraine are blocked by Polish and Slovak truckers, thus destroying the Ukrainian economy no less than Russia’s blockade of Ukrainian ports; when I see Germany refusing to approve €50 billion aid for Ukraine from the EU budget, and Hungary promising to block the European Council’s decision to open negotiations with Ukraine, while others are promising to block the entire enlargement process; and when I see all this happening in a kind of dubious silence among Europeans – when I see all this, I can honestly say that it all seems like treason to me.

I can only repeat once again that indifference is also tantamount to the betrayal.

However, indifference is sometimes harder to notice. But not this time…

If it happens, a betrayal will be called a betrayal. And it will be known who has betrayed. And who were its indifferent accomplices. And it will be known where the betrayal took place. Possibly in the next European Council.

Andrius Kubilius. Will Poland Compensate Damages For Ukraine?

While all the Europeans and Poland’s neighbours, including Lithuania, remain politely silent, Polish truckers are blocking all entry points to Ukraine. This is being led by some pro-Russian Polish activists. And this has been going on for long enough.

On the Polish side, the queue of those trying to enter Ukraine has already reached 40 km. Drivers have been waiting for weeks.

Foodstuffs, medicines, fuel, civilian and military aid are being denied entry into Ukraine. Volunteers transporting aid, who used to be able to get to Ukraine and back to their homes in Europe in a matter of days, are no longer able to do so because they cannot wait for weeks at the border.

All this is described in detail in Milda Goštautaitė’s, with whom we drove to Kherson together.emotional text “KURWA” (https://www.facebook.com/milda.gostautaite/posts/10168632459070441),

When you see such a situation on the Ukrainian border, no other word comes to mind!

After all, this is a betrayal of Ukraine. Treason elementaris!

This is happening in Lithuania’s neighbour Poland. And not for the first time – previously, it was farmers and the grain issue.

The truckers are not the whole Poland, one might say. However, that makes it all the more terrible that the voice of the Polish authorities is not heard in such circumstances. Kaczynski’s Government has not yet gone, Tusk’s has not yet come to office, but there still is President Duda. Silence. There is a Polish civil society, and it is silent.

There is President Duda’s personal friend, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda. And he is also silent.

In terms of consequences, I do not see much difference between a road blockade by the Polish truckers and a blockade of Ukrainian ports by the Kremlin regime with its navy in the Black Sea. The consequences for Ukraine are the same – a severe blow to its economy. The same as Russian missiles bombing a factory in Ukraine.

Ukraine can defend itself against Russian missiles or port blockades by sinking Russian warships with drones it produces itself.

But how can it defend itself against betrayal by neighbours who otherwise swear allegiance?

The Western world is unanimous that Russia will have to compensate Ukraine for the damage it has caused, including damage to its economy. “Russia must pay” is a slogan pronounced even at G-7 level. And this is a matter of international justice – if Russia is not made to pay, there will be others who will want to follow its example.

The natural question arises: is Poland prepared to compensate for the damage that is being done and has already been done to the Ukrainian economy? I will not be surprised if Ukraine demands such a compensation. Because Slovakia is already following Poland’s example.

Both the Polish betrayal of Ukraine and the indifferent silence of Europe (including Lithuania) can be described by the same Polish word that Milda used to name her text.

Maybe it will at least wake us up…

2023.11.27

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!

2023.10.12

Andrius Kubilius. Two Observations And Conclusions

Andrius Kubilius, Member of the European Parliament,

Former Prime Minister of Lithuania

 

First observation

Not so long ago, in 2015, we were all hearing about Daesh, or the Islamic State, a notorious terrorist organisation that operated in Iraq and Syria and occupied large parts of the region. It killed Arabs, raped their women and beheaded their children. The Yazidi religious community had suffered a real genocide. In the end, the Iraqi army and the Kurds, with the assistance of the American military, managed to crush Daesh. The whole democratic world cheered this. Even Putin portrayed himself as being at war with Daesh in Syria. In the end, the Arabs were liberated from the terror of Daesh.

The Hamas terrorists in Israel are behaving in exactly the same way as Daesh did. Perhaps even more brutally. Some say that Hamas is the same Daesh, its new offshoot. Hamas must be treated in the same way as Daesh was treated. Hamas must be crushed. And this must not be only Israel’s concern. It must be the business of the whole West. And it is the business of those Arabs who no longer want to live under the occupation of their terrorists. But someone seems to see the difference between fighting Daesh and fighting Hamas. One has a feeling that the difference is only visible because Daesh is being fought by Arabs who have experienced the terror of Daesh themselves, while Hamas is being fought by Israeli Jews who have experienced the terror of Hamas. To me, this difference in response to the defeat of Daesh and Hamas terrorists is akin to systemic anti-Semitism.

In 2015, Daesh terror and the Russian “carpet bombing” of Syrian cities triggered a huge influx of refugees to Europe. The European Union has experienced one of its biggest crises.

 

Second observation

Until now, the West has tried very hard to make sure that Russia’s military actions and aggression are confined to Ukraine. That is why we have always been hearing statements from NATO commanders and heads of Western countries that the West is not fighting this war, that NATO is not involved, and that this is just a war in Ukraine to defend itself against the Russian aggression. Even the West was afraid to give enough weapons to Ukraine, because it was very worried that Putin, in retaliation for the supply of weapons, would expand his military terrorist actions to wider areas.

Putin has expanded his acts of aggression – to the “belly” of the European Union: the Middle East. Only the blind can fail to see the Kremlin’s links to all this Hamas terrorism: the Kremlin’s communion with Iran, with North Korea, with Syria (all three officially recognised as terrorist states by the US), the visits to the Kremlin by Hamas leaders at the time – all this was the prelude to Hamas’s launching of a terrorist war against Israel. The Kremlin’s objectives are clear: to divert the West’s attention away from Ukraine and to trigger a wave of “instrumentalised” migration to Europe. At the same time, to inspire their fellow “terrorists” to follow the example of Hamas and expand the “terrorist war” to new regions: the South Korean intelligence already warns that North Korea is preparing to repeat Hamas’ “success” in storming the border between North and South Korea; the US intelligence warns that Iran could have a nuclear bomb in its possession within the next 2 weeks. Putin has made sure that not only Hamas, but also North Korea and Iran are prepared to wage a “terrorist war” (perhaps even a nuclear war) on new territories.

Putin’s new strategy for the war against the West does not need tanks, divisions or air power, but rather organised terrorists, still better state-sponsored ones, whatever they are called: Hamas, Wagner or Daesh.

The West must realise that Putin is fighting against the West, against Europe, no longer only in Ukraine. The war was transferred to Israel over the bloody weekend. For a long future and with unpredictable consequences. The day after tomorrow, it could move to South Korea or the Western Balkans. It is easy for Putin to manage such a “terrorist war”. He has always been well prepared for it. Ever since the Soviet era, the KGB has lived by one motto: “Terrorists of all countries – unite!”. Putin has effectively implemented this KGB task too.

 

Conclusions after two observations: what should the West do?

Firstly, the West can no longer fear that Putin will expand his war zone as a response to the West’s actions in supplying arms to Ukraine. Putin has already expanded the territory of his terrorist war against the West. The war is no longer just in Ukraine. The West can therefore no longer fear supplying arms to Ukraine.

Secondly, the West must realise that the Kremlin is the brain and the financial centre of the terrorist war it has launched. Therefore, the terrorist Kremlin must be crushed in the same way as Daesh was crushed and now Hamas is being crushed. And this must be done immediately in Ukraine. Without any delay, otherwise the Kremlin will take its “terrorist war” to new territories. And we do not know which ones.

Some people are worried that Ukraine is now losing the attention of the West as a result of the terrorist war launched by Hamas against Israel.

What Ukraine needs is not Western attention, but Western weapons, as well as Western brains and their understanding that the global terrorist war can and must be stopped now by crushing Putin, the world’s terrorist-in-chief, in Ukraine.

×