Lithuanian Perspective on What Ukraine Should Do Amid Western War Fatigue

Wednesday, 23 August 2023

Lithuanian politicians are rightfully referred to as friends of our state in Ukraine, but Laurynas Kasčiūnas has this title officially. He leads the Ukraine Friendship Group in the Seimas of Lithuania and also chairs the parliamentary committee on national security.

According to his observations, in the West, particularly in the USA, war fatigue is building up, leading to a gradual decline in support for Ukraine. One consequence of this is that the prospect of receiving an invitation to NATO's summit in Washington is no longer realistic.

The politician sees only one way to overcome this threshold.

Watch the video interview we recorded in Russian with Ukrainian subtitles. The text version of the conversation is in the article Response to Wagnerites Attack on Lithuania or Poland Will Be Immediate – US Missile Strike.

On assistance to Ukraine from Lithuanians: "62% of Lithuanians personally supported Ukraine during the big war – through donations, items, and more. I emphasise that this is not the number of those who support you – there are over 90% of them among us. 62% is the number of those who assisted with their own means."

The West has a different perception of Ukraine's victory: "In Lithuania, we understand this [Ukraine's victory] just as you do, Ukrainians: to drive out the occupiers and regain all the lands, including Crimea and Donbas. But in the West, the concept of "Ukraine's victory" is often nuanced. Initially, they didn't talk about victory but about "not letting Ukraine lose."

Laurynas Kasčiūnas  acknowledges that war fatigue is accumulating in the West now. He fears that during the US election campaign, there might be a narrative about Ukraine leaning towards negotiations.

On military assitance from the West: "The formula "you defend yourselves, and we provide weapons" can lead you to victory. There just needs to be a bit more assistance. And here, we often run into the inadequacy of the defence industry."

On the West's hopes about Russia: "We must convince everyone – Americans, Germans, French, and so on – that they should forget about the "engagement policy" when it comes to Russia."

"There's still a strong myth that Russia can be "tied up" through the economy, trade, energy – and then the West will have leverage, and we won't have to fight... This is a collapse."

"And, finally, let's not forget about the factor of nuclear weapons, due to which the West believes that it's better to have one Putin than 30 'Prigozhins'."

On threats from Belarus and a response to a possible attack: "There won't be a traditional attack with tanks or something similar [Wagner group from Belarus]. They don't have tanks and heavy armament anymore. They are not as armed as they were in Ukraine or when they marched towards Moscow."

"For any actions, even for a hybrid attack, they [Russian Federation] will respond."

"In the case of a coordinated missile strike on a NATO country, in the case of crossing the border not with a hybrid provocation, but with conventional aggression – even if the "Wagnerites" are the performers – nobody will seek a path to de-escalation. The response in this case will be principled."

Also, according to Laurynas Kasčiūnas, if Wagnerites pass through the Suwalki Gap to Kaliningrad, an immediate response will follow.

Talking about Ukraine's EU and NATO accession, the Lithuanian politician believes that Ukraine will first join the European Union.

"Russia occupied parts of Georgia and Ukraine, including to make your country a geopolitical hostage. Now, when you talk about NATO membership, one of the questions is, 'What about your territorial integrity?'"

"I don't think the Washington summit will bring you such news [about the start of Ukraine's NATO accession process]."

"You must remind these people that it's you who are fighting, not them. It's the Ukrainian nation that stands against the enemy at the cost of many lives."

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