Prime Minister at Baltic Military Conference: we need decisions based on reality that the aggressor will not stop unless it is defeated


2023 03 24


The Baltic Military Conference is taking place at Vilnius Town Hall on 23–24 March. Its main focus is strengthening NATO’s deterrence and defence posture from a military and strategic perspective. This morning, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė delivered an opening address to the participants of the conference, followed by a discussion with Barry Pavel, Vice President and Director of RAND National Security Research Division.

“We need to be brutally honest and aware that we are living in times of war. This is not crisis management, nor a territorial dispute. Though geographically contained, this is a full-scale war. Our actions must reflect this reality. We need swift and foresightful decisions. Decisions based not on wishful thinking or academic debates but on the reality that the aggressor won’t stop unless it is defeated,” said Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, host of this year’s conference, in her opening address.

Prime Minister stressed that there is no alternative to Ukraine’s victory, but in order to achieve it, it is essential to provide Ukraine with all the assistance it needs without delay.

“Today I am worried about a fatigue. Not the fatigue of Ukrainian soldiers fighting through the rain of bullets, but the fatigue in Western societies. I am worried about the calls for a compromise or a quick pseudo-peace. We — politicians — should be tireless in explaining our societies that, unfortunately, there are no easy short-cuts to peace,” said Prime Minister and urged her colleagues to stay united and strong, to resolutely take all possible measures and not to get tired of fighting in order break this cycle of Russia’s wars in the future.

Prime Minister also noted that NATO should now focus more attention and forces on its eastern flank — the Baltic States — which are bordering Russia, currently the most direct threat to Allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area, as well as Belarus, which has now practically become a part of Russia. “In times of war, incremental changes are not enough. Stock-taking summits are not enough,” she said, adding that ambitious steps and more investment in strengthening deterrence and forward defence are needed.

Ms Šimonytė also mentioned the forthcoming NATO Summit in Vilnius and hoped that it would be here that progressive decisions would be taken to curb Russian aggression and restore a sense of security to NATO countries, and that Ukraine’s membership of the Alliance would gain concrete shape.

“NATO is about safeguarding our shared values. We will always be on the side of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law,” Prime Minister said in the final part of her address to the Baltic Military Conference. “So, I would like to conclude by paying respect to Ukraine, which is now defending freedom for us all and wishing that, after Vilnius Summit, we can say with a calm heart that we had the courage to take responsibility, adopt the necessary decisions and leave a better world for the next generation, and not simply shift our problems onto their shoulders.”

This year’s Baltic Military Conference is organised by the Ministry of National Defence and General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania, in cooperation with the world-renowned US think tank The Atlantic Council. The conference was held in Lithuania for the first time in 2019.

The conference is attended by the most prominent and highly authoritative defence analysts from Europe and the US, as well as representatives of Lithuanian and foreign institutions, military officers, defence experts and academics. The first day of the conference was aimed at a closed-door discussion hosted by the Ministry of National Defence on the lessons learned from Russia’s war in Ukraine, while the main sessions of the event focus on the implementation of NATO’s defence and deterrence policy through the strengthening of NATO’s eastern flank, the assessment of support to Ukraine and the presence of US forces in Europe, as well as NATO’s adjustment to the changing nature of war.

The Baltic Military Conference 2023 is one of the events held in preparation for the historic NATO Summit taking place in Vilnius on 11–12 July. Lithuania, the organiser of the Summit, aims to put on the agenda military and political support to Ukraine, increased funding for European defence and the strengthening of NATO’s defence and deterrence capabilities.

The summit will bring together the leaders of 30 NATO member states. The capital of Lithuania will host 3,000 prominent guests and up to 2,000 journalists and representatives of NGOs over the two days, with 45 to 50 top-level delegations arriving in the city.

The Speech by Prime Minister Ingrida ŠIMONYTĖ at the Baltic Military Conference ‘Reinforcing NATO’s Deterrence and Defence Posture: Military-Strategic Perspective’.