Prime Minister attends McCain Institute discussion with former US Secretary of Defence Dr Mark T. Esper


2022 12 16


Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė attended a remote discussion hosted by the McCain Institute for International Leadership with Dr Mark T. Esper, former U.S. Secretary of Defence and a Distinguished fellow of the Institute, to discuss Russia's war in Ukraine, support by the West for the Ukrainians as well as sanctions against Russia, and the challenges posed by autocracies to democracies and the rules-based international order.

“We want this war to end as soon as possible. But it must end with Ukraine’s victory, because a ceasefire on Putin's terms will mean that the war will start again, after the Russian army has regrouped and as soon as the timing is favourable to Putin,” Prime Minister said, emphasizing that a sustainable peace in Europe will not be achieved if Ukraine is pushed into negotiations on terms that are unacceptable to it, only appeasing the aggressor, Russia.

Prime Minister of Lithuania noted that the military support to Ukraine remains crucial for Ukraine to achieve victory and to deter Russia from further aggression. Modern air defence systems would allow Ukraine to protect its public infrastructure and civilians targeted by the Russian terror as well as to reduce the risk of incidents near NATO's eastern borders, Ms. Šimonytė added.

Prime Minister stressed that despite the fact that Russia does not have the mechanisms to influence the government that exist in democracies, such as civil society, political opposition or free media, the effect of sanctions on the Russian economy should not be underestimated, and will only grow in the long run. However, it is important not to lose patience and to ensure that no loopholes are left in their implementation.

Prime Minister said that Russia's military invasion of Ukraine had led to changes in the attitude of some Western countries towards the Russian threat, and while it was regrettable that this had come at the cost of the tragedy of the war in Ukraine, important decisions had been taken to reinforce the security of Lithuania and the whole of NATO's eastern flank, and countries in the region had increased their spending on defence.

“The Russian regime has no sense of boundaries – it will draw them wherever it is allowed to do so,” Prime Minister warned.

The parties also highlighted the need for ensuring energy security and moving away from Russian energy resources in Europe, with the Klaipėda LNG terminal being a successful example of this – it became an infrastructural object of regional importance following Russia's manipulative actions on the gas market and the invasion of Ukraine.

The McCain Institute's discussion also focused on China's politically motivated economic pressure on Lithuania and the importance of a common rules-based international order.

During the discussion, Prime Minister noted the importance of the United States' leadership in both the pursuit of lasting peace in Europe and preservation of this rules-based global order, and expressed Lithuania's gratitude to the U.S. for its strong stance in these areas.