War at our doorstep, or what we are calling for

Original article was written by Lidžita, Lithuanian blogger and hereby translated to English by Albina Griniūtė.

War at our doorstep, or what we are calling for

At the beginning of the war in Ukraine, a friend of mine and me were talking about how most Europeans have no idea what it is and how real it is. And not just in Ukraine. In Lithuania. In Germany. Throughout the whole of Europe.

The succession of events made it clear that even now, more than a year after that dreadful time, the attitude of most people is still the same.

The last event that made it clear most Europeans do not realize they are standing on a doorstep of WWIII was the popular Eurovision song contest where the Russian entry won an honorable second place.

Russia found a way how to use it to justify its aggression and encourage its citizens to believe that to slaughter a brotherly nation is normal and even praiseworthy.

“Congratulations to Polina Gagarina for her undisputed success and to Russia for the successful Europe-wide referendum where it was demonstrated which place, according to ordinary citizens of European countries, Russia should hold. In my opinion, both the politicians and the European media should listen to the “Million Voices” (title of P. Gagarina’s song) of their citizens. They are calling for normal relations with Russia”, wrote Konstantin Kosachev on his Facebook page.

So, what was “just a song” for an ordinary German, an ordinary Russian understood as a message saying “we are supported by the whole of Europe”. Is it still necessary to explain what message was transmitted by „Million voices“ and what message Russia received back?

I don’t give a damn if she sings well because only a madman can represent a country that occupies another, and shriek “Praying for peace and healing” while wearing a white dress.

I don’t give a damn if she sings well because only a madman can represent a country that occupies another, and shriek “Praying for peace and healing” while wearing a white dress.

Without a doubt, Gagarina was a symbol. A symbol of Russian PR and limitless naïveté. A symbol of aggression represented as peace. Of violence covered in faux tenderness. Of Russia – in the true sense of the word.

Continue reading

24th of May, Lithuanian media round-up

On 24th of May, Mustafa Dzhemilev, Leader of Crimean Tatars, in an interview to delfi.lt said that in an annexed peninsula Tatars are under huge pressure due to their pro-ukrainian attitude and even face various threats if they refuse to accept the citizenship of Russia.‘ (delfi.lt)

Audrius Butkevičius, signatory the of the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania, in an interview to the newspaper ‘Republic‘ said that ‘myth about “impossible elections” is a part of Russian propaganda, because they need to negate the legitimacy of elections, but according to operational data there’s only about 1200 terrorists in more than 42 millions citizens having Ukraine. It is a very small amount and even the heads of terrorists are complaining about lack of people, so what can they do.’ (respublika.lt)

On 19th of May Gediminas Kirkilas, Deputy Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament, in National Radio and Television of Lithuania programme ‘The weak’ said that „Not only Lithuania’s but NATO’s entire defense model must be reviewed. And clearly first and foremost in countries like Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia which has a border with Russia. It’s also clear that we face a completely new warfare for which NATO is not prepared because there has been a period of peaceful coexistence with Russia. This is a strange kind of warfare where first of all information, known as the “soft power” is used.‘ (National Radio and Television of Lithuania, 15min.lt, balsas.lt). Read more in Lithuania Tribune: http://www.lithuaniatribune.com/68363/kirkilas-be-prepared-for-an-unconventional-warfare-201468363/.

Linas Kojala, analyst of Eastern Europe Studies Center, in an interview to the newspaper ‘Counselor of the farmer’ said that ‘impending decentralization of Ukraine due to aggression of Moscow fits Russia and European Union and even United States. All silently agrees that Ukraine will never be same as before 16th of March referendum of Crimea.’ (Counselor of the farmer, delfi.lt)

Dmitry Tymchuk’s Military Blog: Summary – May 22, 2014

Translated and edited by Voices of Ukraine

The bad news:

1. Today is another black day for Ukraine. In a difficult battle with terrorists, many of our soldiers and officers died near Volnovakha [town in Donetsk Region]. Many have been wounded.

There are more questions than answers in this tragedy. The Prosecutor General’s Office has already opened criminal proceedings on two counts–Art. 258 (“Act of terrorism that resulted in deaths of people”) and Art. 425 (“Neglect of duty in military service”) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine.

I won’t make any comments regarding this tragedy. There are moral and ethical reasons not to do that. I will clench my teeth and keep quiet. Only, it’s infinitely sad that our Homeland keeps losing its sons.

May they rest in piece.

More than anything in the world, I want not to have any more occasions to repeat this phrase ever again.

2.Around 50,000 cubic meters of natural gas are stolen daily in Crimea by Russian occupation authorities from the deposit in Kherson Region. Simply put, after stealing Crimea, Putin keeps stealing gas from Ukraine without any remorse. Cunningly enterprising guy, what else can I say?

In particular, Russian servicemen set up block posts near the Arabat Spit on the territory of Kherson Region, and therefore cover up the site of the gas extraction, where they also steal from. Kiev doesn’t react to this in any way–even in words. And this is very strange.

3. We have a great sorrow. Law enforcement professionals “exposed” the editorial office of the “Vesti” newspaper. The tax service of Ukraine, during a search in the office of the chief editor Ihor Guzhva, discovered 1.5 million Hryvnias [USD $125,470]. Not bad for an editor.

Although the staff of the newspaper insists that this is a struggle against freedom of speech and the Ukrainian authorities are destroying the luminaries of Ukrainian journalism at its root.

From myself, I’d like to say that I don’t communicate with journalists from “Vesti” on principle. Although not because of Mr. Guzgva’s habit of stashing millions. Here’s what I explain to “Vesti” journalists: I have nothing to say to those who play Putin’s fifer on the pages of their media. While I could have turned a blind eye to this during peaceful times, I can’t do it when Russia invaded my country.

I support freedom of speech and the press with every fiber of my being. Let “Vesti” print their little pro-Russian articles and manipulate facts in conjunction with the Kremlin–no problem. But it seems to me, it would be more appropriate if they did it in a neighboring country. The one located to the Northeast of Ukraine.

I put the commentary to this incident under bad news only so that I don’t end up under the hot pencil of “Reporters Without Borders.” What a hypocrite I am.

The good news:

1. The events in Volnovakha, despite their inconceivable tragedy, rocked the world of Ukrainian special forces.

The announcement by the General Staff Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine that the “Rubicon has been crossed,” and that the army will retaliate for this bloody terrorist massacre–is only a small detail. According to our data, the response that’s being planned is truly large-scale. And this [time it] won’t be a false start.

I sincerely believe that every one of our fallen Heroes will be avenged. To do otherwise is not possible.

2. The RNBO [National Security and Defense Council] of Ukraine has initiated the creation of a broad anti-Putin coalition with NATO and the EU, RNBO Secretary Andriy Parubiy announced.

The [starting] point is correct: without stopping Putin now, it’s unclear where Russian tanks and the unyielding little hands of Vladimir Vladimirovich will end up.

Parubiy reported that he discussed this issue in Brussels with the representatives of NATO and the European Union. Although it’s not clear how ready the West is in supporting this idea. Obviously, in words one can hear many things being said. But usually in these circumstances the problems and reflections begin when it comes down to business.

Let’s hope for the adequacy of Western leaders.

3. The commander of the “Donbass” Batallion of the territorial defense in Donetsk Region, S. Semenchenko reported today: Volodars’kyi Raion of Donetsk Region was taken back from terrorists.

The Batallion plans to take the regional center–city of Donetsk–under control.

On this day covered with the blood of our servicemen in Volnovakha, we’d like to wish “Donbass” the most important thing–take care of yourselves, guys. Ukraine needs all of you.

May 21, 2014 Lithuanian media round-up

On 21st of May, Joe Biden, U.S. Vice President, said that ‘Russia must be punished if it seeks to derail Ukraine’s presidential elections this weekend.’ (lrytas.lt. delfi.lt, 15min.lt)

On 21st of May John Michael McHugh, United States Secretary of the Army, in an exclusive interview to 15min.lt said that ‘military cooperation of Lithuania and United States of America will be even more collaborative in the future.’ He also ensured Lithuanians that in case of conventional or unconventional warfare it will invoke 5th article of the Treaty of Washington.’ (15min.lt)


Protest against Russian aggression was held in Vilnius

Today, a protest against Russian aggression and occupation of Crimea was organized at the Russian embassy in Vilnius. In the words of one of the participants, MP Mantas Adomėnas, “it is shameful when historical memory and symbols of military achievements (Ribbon of St. George and the like) are used to feed hatred against the countries that finally liberated themselves from the Soviet slavery.

The country, which is still living on the scraps of imperialistic revanchism, has lost the right to talk about its “liberating” role in World War II, especially when after crossing the Lithuanian border the Soviet army became a murderous and destructive occupier, engaged in war crimes and genocide. That is why the 9th of May should not be celebrated in Lithuania”.

People came to the protest with Ukrainian, Lithuanian, US flags and NATO symbols. Some also had posters with slogans directed against Russian policy and military actions in Ukraine, asking why criminals and torturers deserve higher pensions from Kremlin (a recent decision by Vladimir Putin).

Andrius Kubilius’ speech ‘European future of Ukraine – a safe future for us’

Speech made by the leader of opposition of Lithuanian Parliament Andrius Kubilius during the press conference on April 2014 (unofficial translation)

Ukraine – in the spotlight

Ukraine stays in the spotlight, not only for us, but for the whole world as well. However, it is not Ukraine‘s fault.

The world faces a huge crisis, but it is not ‘Crisis of Ukraine’. The world faces a crisis, staged by the regime of Putin, phenomenon of aggressive Putinism, the development of ‘Putinist’ chauvinism in Russia. There is no ‘Crisis of Ukraine’, there is no ‘Ukrainian separatism’ – there is a new type of war, started by Putin, armed terrorism supported by Russia, Russia‘s special forces, not some joyful ‘little green men’.

Russia is attempting to fight an intensive informational war, seeking to establish several already familiar phrases in our minds: Crisis of Ukraine (meaning that Ukraine is the one doing something wrong, not Russia), ‘separatists’ (so that everybody speaks of a ‘peaceful’ attempt to separate from Ukraine allegedly held by Ukrainian Russian-speakers rather than Russian special forces and terrorism), ‘little green men’ (sounds like a phrase from animated movie – much gentler compared to ‘Spetsnaz forces’). We must respond to such imposed informational war by strongly expressing the responsibility of Russia for waging a terrorist war in foreign country – Ukraine.

I don‘t know what Putin‘s next moves to stop the election in Ukraine will be, however it is clear now that the regime in Russia isolates itself from the rest of civilized world. Vladimir Putin is driving himself into the trap of self-isolation. Consequences will first be felt throughout Russian economy, and afterwards will inevitably be catastrophic to the regime itself.

We have had several examples throughout the history, when such combination – authoritarian regime, promoting chauvinism of nation by its aggressive ways, in the end isolates itself from the civilized world and that leads directly to the collapse of such regime.

It is obvious, that Russia ruled by Putin has no civilized future, so the fact that Putin himself draws the collapse of it nearer, is no bad news for the future of Russia. At the same time it is not bad news for the civilized world, us among it, because civilized Russia is essential for both ours and Europe‘s security. And that was effectively demonstrated by the regime of Putin.

We have to be grateful for Ukrainian people and current Ukrainian Government, because while they are quietly suffering Russia’s aggression, they manage to remain stoic and civilized at the same time letting the world see the real face of Putin’s regime also increasing the prospect of civilized Russia.

Ukraine and the 10th anniversary of our EU membership

In the shadow of the events in Ukraine, this week will also be important as we celebrate the 10th anniversary of our own EU membership. Historically speaking, the fact that we became members of EU and NATO – is a historical miracle, as important as the 11th of March. The importance of this miracle is emphasized by the current geopolitical threats. We can only imagine the way we would feel these days, watching the aggression of Putin‘s regime in Ukraine, if we weren’t members of EU and NATO, with the feeling of security this membership brings us. The soldiers of United States who arrived to Lithuania last week, is something that changes our feelings entirely, and we hope, Putin‘s as well.

The achievements we made over the ten years can be called miracle as well. Though we make mistakes, we still are a rapidly developing country, receiving as well as giving to the whole of Europe. We are the best proof that the decision to expand EU, that was made ten years ago, was wise and brought success for both us and the whole EU. We can celebrate that at that time both EU and US leaders had political courage and will to implement this huge vision.

In the year 2000, while being Lithuanian Prime Minister, I had a chance to contribute to the start of this vision’s realization. I remember well in June of that year, journey barefoot through the dunes of Nida (not burned at that time – editor note in 2006 there was a catastrophic fire in the dunes of Nida) with Gunther Verheugen, the EU Commissioner responsible for expansion at that time. Lithuania was considered lagging in the path of EU membership so we had to put lots of efforts while trying to prove we are capable to catch up. It is great that G. Verheugen, still not appreciated properly at the state level for the miracle he helped to achieve, understood us. As he recently said in one public event held in Berlin, Nida was a place where his ‘large expansion’ plan was born.

As I was informed, he recollected the year 2000 in Nida this way:
‘The idea that all 10 countries could become EU members at once, was born while I was walking in the dunes of Nida together with Lithuania’s Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius. He asked me then, what would happen if the lagging countries would catch up with leaders. Would there be enough political will to accept them together with the countries that were the first to start negotiations. At that point I, as a Commissioner for expansion, decided to seek more ambitious expansion plan’.

Today, in the light of big geopolitical challenges, Europe needs as courageous and visionary solutions. While we celebrate the 10th anniversary of our membership and celebrate it as the 10th anniversary of ours and the whole EU’s success, we must declare that further expansion of EU to the so-called Eastern neighborhood will be as successful. Successful both for Europe as well as for those countries. Maybe this type of expansion will require more time; however the fairest civilized EU response to Vladimir Putin’s barbaric aggression in Ukraine would be Moldova, Ukraine, Georgia memberships’ perspective in European Union.

On the 1st of May, on the occasion of 10th anniversary of membership in EU, The Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats party’s representatives will gather to a special assembly, dedicated for this celebration. It is an important celebration for us, since we consistently striven to turn Lithuania moving towards West rather than East. We are glad we were right and it is unambiguously proved so today, by Mr. Putin.

Our assembly will become an important event, bringing representatives of Center-right parties from countries, which in the same way we did, turned themselves off the empire. Also the ones that are working on it, trying to achieve the same European integration as we currently have. We are hoping for the large number of influential Ukrainian, Moldavian, Georgian, Belorussian guests as well as European People’s Party representatives from Brussels and the Heads of European Parliament.

Before the assembly we plan a particular conference to discuss current challenges brought by the aggressive politics of V. Putin’s regime and our response as the right-wing parties. This type of assembly in Vilnius is part of the consistent execution of active diplomatic efforts of our political party, regardless weather we are governing or in opposition. Our belief is that our diplomatic efforts are very important and significant and sometimes can rival the results of official Lithuanian diplomacy. Today government of Ukraine consists of parties and leaders we consider colleagues of our own political party. Using our diplomatic efforts we had several meetings with them, in Vilnius, as well as in Kiev and Brussels.

On the occasion of our assembly and conference we plan to establish the common informal collaboration network between center-right parties from the countries, which escaped the imperial grip as we had. Thus far this ‘Post-imperial Vilnius network’ will be called relatively nicely EGE – ‘Europe Goes East’.

It would be great if other Lithuanian European political parties, particularly left-wing parties, would follow our diplomatic effort as an example. Today we, Lithuanians, have to take on the responsibility the same way the old Europe’s left- and right-wing parties took after the 90s, when they started educating, training and teaching us about becoming a legal state with European democracy and Parliamentarism. Thanks to them, Lithuania’s post communist left-wing eventually became social democrats.

Now while we work with the right-wing of Ukraine, it is very important that someone would work as intensively with the left-wing, the former Regions party of Ukraine. Because they will win an election in Ukraine eventually, the same way as former communist party of Algirdas Brazauskas did in Lithuania in 1992. It is good that at that point they already had learned enough from Europe’s left-wing. That is why it is essential now, for left-wing of Lithuania, not only the conservatives, to take on the same responsibility to establish European type left-wing in Ukraine.

I congratulate all Lithuanian people and all parties of Lithuania with the 10th anniversary. However I strongly urge and invite all the parties especially social democrats not only to celebrate the labor day, but also to undertake this large European political work for the sake of Ukraine European future, which means safer future for all of us as well.