Gitanas Nauseda is the president of Lithuania.
Russia has publicly challenged the West for at least the past 15 years. She has tried to gain first hand through aggressive actions, first in Georgia in 2008, then in the Crimea of Ukraine and the Donbas in 2014. Despite all this, some Western countries have continued business as usual with Moscow, some have even expanded their cooperation. For decades, the West has failed to understand what it has to do with the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin, namely expansionism, revisionism, violence, rule by fear and coercion. Russia is not interested in creation or cooperation, but rather in destruction and forcible rule.
February 24, 2022, was the day when the pink glasses fell. Now Western countries have imposed strict sanctions on Russia and are sending heavy weapons to Ukraine. Europe is beginning to move towards energy independence from Russia. It may seem like a lot has been done, but that is not enough to stop the war in Ukraine. And are we really doing enough to stop Putin from continuing his aggression elsewhere?
The time has come to realize that Russia cannot be stopped by persuasion, cooperation, appeasement or concessions. Russia takes these gestures as a sign of weakness, as permission to expand and intensify its attack. When Putin hears Western leaders talking about the need to negotiateneeds for a ceasefire, the need to avoid humiliating Russia, he is only encouraged to increase his risk of world conquest. Recently Putin even compared himself Peter the Great and openly declared his determination to retake the lands previously occupied by the Russian Empire. Such rhetoric clearly shows his contempt for one of the most fundamental pillars of the rule-based international order: the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Putin is clear in his desire to overthrow Western values, sever ties between North America and Europe, and subjugate Europe to Russia’s will. He knows he can achieve these goals by confronting NATO. We can prevent this from happening by ensuring that the transatlantic community has a clear protection plan. We are at a crucial moment in history, where we must show determination and determination. of NATO Summit scheduled to start on 29 June in Madrid will be our chance to do so.
First, we must clearly define Russia as a clear long-term threat to the entire Euro-Atlantic area. NATO policies need to be adapted accordingly. There is no room for hesitation and passive sedation.
Second, we need to increase our defenses. We can no longer believe in the policy of tentative reinforcement. We must ensure that NATO has no weaknesses. It is essential that no potential adversary be tempted to attack the alliance. The three Baltic states are already on the front line if Putin decides to test NATO’s borders, strength and commitment. In this situation, there is no credible alternative for NATO but to invest more in the defense of the Baltic countries. We need to move quickly towards modern defense forward by improving the scale of the NATO battalion added presence forward at brigade level and by building regional air defense capabilities. This would send the strongest signal so far to Russia that it will not be allowed to set parameters for the security of NATO’s eastern flank. Failure to do so would cause further trouble.
Third, we must ensure that Ukraine wins. We must offer any form of support to Ukraine, including (and especially) heavy weapons, quickly and in significant quantities. Time and numbers matter in this fight. We must understand that every inch of Ukrainian land occupied by Putin’s forces brings Russian terror closer to our door. We need to understand that this war is about the world in which we and our children will live. Values cannot be protected. If left unprotected, they will disappear and democracy will be replaced by authoritarianism. We have to choose between submitting or defending our values. We must choose Ukraine.
And finally, NATO open door policy should be formally held as the most effective tool in enhancing security and securing peace for millions of Europeans. We must wholeheartedly welcome Sweden and Finland into the alliance. This decision will have a broad positive impact on the Baltic region and NATO as a whole.
To be truly secure and stable, Europe must be complete and free, united in peace, democracy and prosperity. For this future to become a reality, NATO’s success as the backbone of the collective defense that extends across the transatlantic area is crucial.
It also means that the alliance will have to reinvent itself. Just being more proactive, investing more in us inseparable security and making it harder for opponents to wreak havoc, can we hope to achieve the return of a lasting peace in Europe.
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