A. Kubilius. On Lithuania’s foreign policy strategy up to 2030

Lithuanian flag DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

Instead of an introduction

This text aims to bring together in a more conceptual form personal thoughts, initiatives and projects devoted to foreign and security policy, which I have had the opportunity to lecture, explain, initiate and implement on various occasions over the last decade, both in Lithuania, in the European Parliament, in Kyiv and in other world capitals.

Two events led to the creation of this text. First, Putin’s war against Ukraine. The second is the initiative of the political parties in Lithuania’s Seimas to draw up the new inter-party agreements on Lithuania’s foreign and security policy. I was also involved in the drafting of the agreement on foreign policy.

For various reasons, I have had to work extensively on foreign policy over the last decade. One of the main reasons for this focus was the 2014 Maidan Revolution in Ukraine. It was already clear then that our region was entering a time of major tectonic shifts. The inevitable expansion of democracy to the eastern side of the European continent and the Kremlin’s kleptocracy based on post-imperial nostalgia, as well as its increasingly brutal authoritarianism, were the most obvious features of these tectonic shifts.

Putin’s criminal war against Ukraine is the culmination of these drifts. After this war, which Putin will lose both on the Ukrainian front and in the Russian economy against Western sanctions, the world, and our region in particular, will be different. The European Union will be different, Ukraine will be different, and Russia is likely to be different.

Lithuania will play a special role in these changes. It is therefore very important that the political parties of the Seimas have now taken the initiative to discuss the long-term strategic goals of Lithuania’s foreign policy and the most effective ways to achieve them. My participation in the drafting of this agreement has encouraged me to put together in one text the ideas, concepts, initiatives and projects that I have had the opportunity to write about in the Lithuanian and international media over the past year or on my Facebook page, and to speak at various seminars, meetings in different capitals and at European Parliament meetings.

I hope that the drafting of the inter-party agreement in Lithuania will also turn into a broad and intellectual discussion on the current and long-term global geopolitical changes, as well as on Lithuania’s fundamental foreign policy objectives. This text is my contribution to stimulating such a discussion.

At the same time, it is also a silent encouragement to those who care about EU foreign policy in eastern part of European continent, its long-term objectives and the strategies to achieve them, to do a similar job – to present their thoughts in a similar way.

I. Geopolitical security – a key objective of Lithuanian foreign policy

Since March 11, the main objective of Lithuania’s foreign policy has been, is and remains the geopolitical security of Lithuania.

The main challenge to our security is Putin’s aggressive, autocratic, post-imperial Russia and its satellite, Lukashenko’s Belarus.

The three main strategic factors that can strengthen our security are:  Euro-Atlantic alliances; the expansion of democracy to the eastern side of the European continent; and the success of Ukraine. These factors can be briefly summarized as follows:

– Lithuania’s integration and active participation in Western alliances and partnerships that strengthen our security and can potentially deter or defend against aggressive authoritarian neighbours, and the continued strengthening of these alliances;

– strengthening and extending democracy to the East of us, to the eastern side of the European continent. We are committed to the historical principle that democracies do not fight each other. Democracy in Russia would be the factor that would fundamentally resolve the most important security challenges, not only in our region, but also on the whole European continent;

  • Ukraine will play a special role in the eastward expansion of democracy: not only its victory in Putin’s war, but also its rapid reconstruction with the help of the multi-billion dollar Marshall Plan for Ukraine, and its rapid integration into the European Union, which will guarantee the long-term success of its democracy and economy. The example of Ukraine’s success would play a special role as a soft power, inspiring the Russian public to follow its example. Ukraine’s rapid integration into the European Union would be an ice-breaker for the other countries of the Association Trio (Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova) to follow the same path. Obviously, democratic Belarus and Armenia would also follow this path.

Putin’s war against Ukraine will lead to major changes: both in Ukraine itself and its perspectives, and those of the wider Eastern neighbourhood, in the European Union and NATO, and in Russia itself. Lithuania must be prepared for such changes by being open to the necessary shifts in its foreign policy tactics, in particular by making much more effective use of and strengthening the key factors that determine our geopolitical security.

II. Alliances and Partnerships

Putin’s war against Ukraine has shown the strengths of the Western alliances to which we belong, but it has also highlighted their weaknesses and shortcomings.

One feature that has become very pronounced is the technical, tactical and moral backwardness of the Russian military and it’s lagging behind the West. And behind Ukraine. The West is much stronger than authoritarian Russia.

On the other hand, however, the problems of political leadership in the West have become also apparent, f.e.: hesitations over the supply of arms to Ukraine or the European Union’s failure from the outset to impose the toughest sanctions, including the oil and gas embargo.

After the war, new defence alliances are likely to emerge in our neighbourhood, in particular those that will take on the responsibility of guaranteeing Ukraine’s security without it becoming a member of NATO, at least for a while. This could be an alliance between Ukraine, the US, the UK, Poland and Turkey, which has already proved its real, not theoretical, strength in this war. It would be important for Lithuania, together with the other Baltic countries, to be a partner, if not a member, of such an alliance, because Ukraine has already shown that it has the strongest military forces among the European democracies.

Lithuania’s geopolitical partnership with the US and the UK will become even more important, not only in order to strengthen Lithuania’s defence potential, but also in order to assist those partners to play an active role in the processes of democratic development in Eastern Europe. Also, the geopolitical coalition between Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine will become even more important, especially in the context of build-up of Ukraine’s success.

The European Union, which has found its geopolitical weight and effectiveness in this war, has at the same time had a possibility to feel more acutely its unresolved leadership problems, where one country can block a major foreign and security policy decision of the Union. The only solution to this problem is the implementation of the principle of qualified majority rule in decision-making of EU institutions, particularly in foreign and security policy decisions. Lithuania must strongly support the implementation of such a principle, bearing in mind that the non-application of the qualified majority principle is one of the main reasons hindering faster enlargement of the EU.

Since the EU’s foreign and security policy decisions have so far been taken on the basis of consensus, and it is obvious that individual EU Member States can have a different and more skeptical approach to the European Eastern Policy than we have, Lithuania, together with like-minded partners, should implement a common information and lobbying strategy, with the clear goal to help the leaders of these sceptical countries to be convinced of the correctness of our approach.

III. Democracy evolvement in the Europe’s East: the three fronts of our struggle

Putin’s war against Ukraine is also a war against us. We are at war. We are at war for a secure future of Lithuania, Ukraine, Europe, neighbouring Belarus and even Russia.

This war can be exhausting and long. Putin must lose this war. Victory will depend not only on the heroic struggle of Ukrainians to defend their land. It will also depend on all of us who consider ourselves part of the Western democratic world.

Because there are three fronts in this war. And they are all important.

The first front is, of course, the military front in Ukraine. It is the most important front at the moment, and the Ukrainians themselves are fighting heroically. For the time being, we can only help with delivery of arms. There is an urgent need to help with weapons that can ‘close the skies’ over Ukraine. It is also necessary to prepare for the fact that such a war could move into a long-term “trench war” phase. It is already necessary to think now about forms of support for Ukraine that will be adapted to such a war. Even after the war, Ukraine will remain a particularly important political battlefront, requiring concentrated Western support to rebuild Ukraine, to help it to reform and to integrate rapidly into the European Union.

The second front is our fighting front in Western capitals: for real support for Ukraine, including with serious weapons; for ruthless sanctions against Russia, including an oil and gas embargo from tomorrow on; for Ukraine to become a member of the European Union, not after decades from now (as the leaders of some EU countries claim), but in the near future; for a multi-billion dollar Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Ukraine; and for a real International Tribunal for Putin (together with Lukashenko). To achieve this, Lithuania must learn to give a much greater role in its foreign policy to the development of the necessary long-term strategies and to our ability to build the coalitions of like-minded countries needed to implement them.

Finally, our third front – the fight for a different Russia. For a Russia without Putin, for a Russia that is deputinized. With Putin’s defeat on the first front in Ukraine and on the second front of sanctions, new opportunities will open up for a different Russia. But whether those opportunities materialize will depend on the struggle of all of us on this third front. Together with Russia’s liberal opposition, we have a common fight ahead of us for the minds and hearts of ordinary Russian people. The deputinization of Russian consciousness must begin today, notwithstanding the fact that many of the usual channels of communication have been closed down by Putin. For the future of different Russia we will have to fight in the capitals of the West, where, even in spite of this war, there will be plenty of willingness to go back to business as usual, to a “dialogue with Putin.” On this third front, we must stand shoulder to shoulder with the Russian opposition, both in helping them to proclaim the dream of a ‘different Russia’ in Russia itself, and in fighting alongside them for the West’s belief in the possibility of a different Russia.

It is worth remembering that the security of the whole of the European continent, including our region, will be completely different, and we will all be unimaginably safer, if Russia is finally different, if it becomes a Russia without Putin and a deputinized Russia. That is worth fighting for. It’s worth not only for the Ukrainians. And not only for the Russian opposition. But for all of us, and joining our forces.

This is our war. On three fronts simultaneously. We have no right to lose it. Not on any front.

Because the laws of war are well known: victory on one front inspires and empowers victory on other fronts, but defeat on one front usually leads to defeat on the other. And the loss of the whole war.

These three fronts form the unity of our foreign policy objectives: the success of Ukraine; democracy in Russia, inspired by Ukraine’s success and achieved together with the Russian opposition; and the West devoted to Ukraine and to democracy in Russia. Our foreign policy strategy must therefore preserve this unity: no one front can be forgotten or weakened.

Ukraine plays and will continue to play a special role in this strategy and in achievement of these objectives, but this does not mean that the other democracies of the Eastern Partnership should be forgotten. Over the next decade, Ukraine will dominate the European Union’s Eastern Partnership policy, and like an ice-breaker it could build new roads for the development and integration of the whole region.

IV. The second front and Lithuania’s main objectives and actions

While Putin’s war against Ukraine has mobilised the West and the European Union, it remains to be seen how long this geopolitical mobilisation in Western capitals will last once the war is over.

So far (before and during the war), we have not seen any efforts by the EU institutions to develop long-term ambitious strategies to accelerate Ukraine’s integration into the EU. Nor have we seen EU strategies how to assist development of democracies in the area to the east of the current borders of the European Union. Most EU Member States also do not have such strategies. Lithuania is one of the few countries that is most active in this area, although it also lacks a clearer longer-term national strategy (not only on how to help Ukraine on the path of reform, but also on how to implement joint projects for international action and international lobbying). Lithuania can (and must) play a special role in becoming an initiator of the ambitious strategy of the second front and needs to play a special crystallizer role in building a like-minded coalition for implementation of such a strategy. This requires from us the clear understanding that our consistent efforts, rather than the indifference of the major capitals of the European Union, can lead to a needed change in the European Union’s policy in this area and a new direction and dynamism of such policy.

There is serious work to be done – a Marshall Plan for Ukraine, a strategy for Ukraine’s rapid integration into the European Union, an international tribunal for Putin, and Lithuania’s second presidency of the European Union in 2027, when Ukraine’s European integration we will have to put at the top of the EU agenda.

To succeed in these efforts, we need to mobilise forces for the second front. Consistent work in Western capitals not only by Lithuania, but also by a broader coalition of like-minded countries requires a clear strategy and a well-organised, professional team.

Lithuania could take on such an initiative. For Lithuania to be successful in achieving such a strategic goal and to be effective in the job, which is needed to be done, it would require an institutional arrangement that could be symbolically called the “Ministry of Ukraine”. It will not be easy, but it is worth taking on the burden of such leadership.

V. The mission of the “Ministry of Ukraine”

Putin’s war against Ukraine has clearly shown that there are two components of the European Union: the citizens of the European Union have become dramatically overwhelmingly in favour of support for Ukraine, for sanctions against Russia, and for Ukraine’s membership in the European Union. Meanwhile, the institutional European Union, which has enormous collective potential to exercise global leadership in the face of such geopolitical upheaval, whether by mobilising support for Ukraine or by imposing tough sanctions on Russia, is proving to be an organisation that is incapable to use that potential, because individual national leaders have other concerns rather than the fate of Ukraine.

Lithuania needs to see both sides of the issue and must have a strategy how through joint efforts to use the enthusiasm of European citizens to support Ukraine in order to overcome the indifference or scepticism of some national leaders. And this should become one of the most important objectives of the foreign policy of the Lithuanian state – to make sure that no leader of a European Union country during discussions at the EU Council dares to stop the decisions needed to support Ukraine or to sanction Russia. It is not enough for Lithuania to say at the Council meeting that we support Ukraine’s faster integration into the European Union. We must draw up the blueprints for such accelerated integration ourselves. We must then find like-minded leaders among the EU Member States to support such strategic proposals and to join a cross-country “pro-Ukraine coalition“ or the Second front coalition. Then we all need to work together to implement a long-term strategy of “political occupation” of Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam, not just by organizing individual visits of Lithuanian leaders to those capitals, but by planning permanent cycles of visits, seminars, exhibitions and concerts of the leaders of the “pro-Ukraine Coalition”, parliamentarians, experts, Ukrainian artists to all of those major EU capitals. This would be the Second front strategy to fight together with Ukrainians, their political leaders and other Western allies to ensure that the leaders of Germany, the Netherlands or France become true allies of Ukraine.

Such a large and extensive work requires the “Ministry of Ukraine” to be established in Lithuania. It is a symbolic title, underlining that Ukrainian affairs are, and will continue to be, among the top priorities in our country during this decade.

Despite the fact that the name “Ministry of Ukraine” is proposed for such an institution or organisation, the institution itself does not have to be another bureaucratic body. Recent activities of the Lithuanian state and society in support of Ukraine have shown the synergies that can be achieved when everyone works together with a common goal, in a coordinated way, and in a spirit of mutual support. Various society grass-root initiatives have often proved to be faster, more effective and more flexible than the state bureaucracy and its bureaucratic rules. Such qualities of dynamism and leadership are desperately needed, not only for bilateral humanitarian aid in support of Ukraine, but also for victory in the longer-term struggles on all three fronts.

This is why the “Ministry of Ukraine” could be an effective public  body, established by the government in cooperation with proven  partners from society and covering a wide range of activities: starting from the preparation of important international initiatives (Marshall Plan for Ukraine; Ukraine’s strategy for rapid European integration), and going to build international coalitions and to  organize  international lobbying campaigns, or campaigns for the conversion of Berlin, Paris and Amsterdam to the “Ukrainian religion”.

The main mission of the “Ministry of Ukraine” is to help Lithuania be a significant and effective participant in the process of “Ukraine’s reunification with the European Union”, not only in its direct bilateral relations with Ukraine, but also by working hard in the broader West, in all areas of the Second front. The “Ministry of Ukraine” in Vilnius must become one of the important headquarters of this Second front.

VI. Short-term activities of the Second front

(a) Preparing for the 2027 Presidency of the European Union

For Lithuania, the most important strategic event on this path of Ukraine’s accession to the EU is 2027, when Lithuania will hold the EU Presidency for the second time. The political will in Lithuania needs to be consolidated now, so that the main priority of our Presidency in 2027 would be  to fast-track the process of Ukraine’s accession to the EU, which will be closely linked to the project of Ukraine’s reconstruction. It should also be understandable  that Ukraine’s accession to the EU project will in one way or another also help the European integration of the other two countries of the Associated Trio: e.a., Georgia and Moldova. In order to achieve anything significant in 2027, intensive preparatory work in Lithuania needs to start now. And internationally.

It’s worth remembering that Poland will take over the EU presidency before 2027, in 2025. The Polish-Lithuanian tandem presidency can play a special strategic role in the success of both Ukraine’s reconstruction and Ukraine’s accession to the EU project.

Poland and Lithuania will be preceded by the Czech Republic (2022) and Sweden (2023), followed by Latvia (2028). All of them can be considered as core members of the “pro-Ukraine coalition”, inside of which a common calendar can be constructed for the implementation of both the reconstruction of Ukraine and the Ukraine’s accession to the EU strategies.

Plans need to be made to include the other Baltic and Central European countries, as well as the Nordic countries and Germany and France, in such a cross-countries “pro-Ukraine coalition”.

b) Ukraine reconstruction project – Marshall Plan for Ukraine

It is clear that the first joint activity of the Second front will be the project of rebuilding Ukraine. It could require tens, if not hundreds of billions euros of funds. Many agree that it will require the same wisdom, skills and resources that were used for the original Marshall Plan implemented by the United States to rebuild and stabilise Western Europe after the Second World War. It is worth remembering that the post-war Marshall Plan also led to the start of the European reunification, because it was Washington’s condition for a war-torn Europe. How a modern Marshall Plan for a war-torn Ukraine could be organised, financed and implemented is a matter worth discussing and addressing now. It could be financed by the funds brought in by the Donors’ Conference, it could be the sanctioned and frozen funds of the Russian Central Bank or of the Russian oligarchs used as reparations for the damage done to Ukraine, it could be funds borrowed in the name of the EU, just as the Recovery Fund was financed during the pandemic. The immediate development and beginning of implementation of such a Marshall Plan for Ukraine would give the Ukrainians significant hope, and hope plays a special role in such a war. It is also worth recalling the experience of the informal Marshall Plan for Ukraine initiative, which was implemented by the Lithuanian Seimas in 2016-2019, and which showed very clearly that the biggest problem in mobilising and implementing such assistance is not the lack of Western financial support, but the lack of capacity to absorb such funds in Ukraine itself.

c) Ukraine’s rapid integration with the EU – integration into the Single Market; changing the EU’s enlargement  philosophy

Ukraine’s rapid integration with the European Union is one of the key geopolitical factors that would fundamentally change the geopolitical security situation in the region. It would guarantee the rapid development of Ukraine’s economic and social prosperity, it would expand the area of stable democracy across the European continent, integrate Ukraine’s economy, which is rich in natural resources and fertile land, into the European Common Market, and serve as an inspiring example for Russian citizens to follow in Ukraine’s democratic development footsteps. The enlargement of the European Union is the only project that creates a stable area based on European values in the European Union’s neighbourhood. Such a creation of stability area is to the benefit for the European Union itself in particular.

Unfortunately, in recent years, the European Union’s enlargement, both to the Western Balkans and to the Eastern Neighbourhood, including Ukraine, has been characterised by only marked stagnation. This may well be the reason for Putin’s decision to wage war against Ukraine.

It is likely that, following Putin’s defeat in the war, a whole new geopolitical environment will emerge on the European continent, which will allow Ukraine’s rapid accession to the European Union to take place.

Lithuania must be among the first countries to propose an algorithm of quick accession of Ukraine, which would be acceptable to both Ukraine and the EU.

In any case, any kind of further enlargement algorithm requires that Ukraine would be granted candidate status in the nearest future. It is worth remembering that the Western Balkan countries have had this status for quite a long time, even though as experts are showing the Association Trio’s integration achievements are exactly the same as those of the Western Balkan countries[1]

It is worth noting that the EU’s current enlargement philosophy, which has yielded good results with the admission of the Central European and Baltic countries, is no longer successful: the integration of the Western Balkans is stalled and does not seem to be able to make any tangible progress, while that philosophy is not able to offer something ambitious, concrete and workable for Ukraine and the other countries of the Association Trio .

The very philosophy of enlargement, which is no longer fit for the present time, is therefore worth revisiting[2].

One of the proposals is to apply for Ukraine and the other countries of the Trio (including the countries of the Western Balkans) the accelerated procedure of integration into the European Union’s Single Market. This would require Ukraine to immediately implement as much as 70% of the EU’s Aqui Communitaire, and in such a way reaping all the benefits of being a full member of the Single Market, but without yet gaining institutional rights in the Council of the European Union or the Commission. Not only many EU experts, but also the European Parliament has stressed in recent decisions that this is a realistic way to overcome the current stagnation of integration.

A second possible suggestion is to overhaul the whole enlargement strategy, taking into account the integration of East Germany into the European Union in 1990, which also became a member of the European Community within a year of Berlin Wall collapse through its merger with West Germany. And that took less than a year. East Germany, by merging with West Germany, took over the entire legal code (the entire Aqui Communitaire) from West Germany in one fell swoop before learning how to live with such new legal rules. In other words, East Germany started out as a member of the European Community, and only then did it integrate towards EU norms. Meanwhile, for Central Europe and the Baltic States, the European Union applied the opposite philosophy: it started by forcing us to take over the whole of EU law, then tested us on whether we knew how to live with such European law, and only at the end did it carry out the formality of handing us our EU membership certificates. So we have followed a long path – first integration (proving that we can live under EU rules) and only then the EU membership certificate. This enlargement philosophy worked well enough for us at the time we joined the EU, but now it no longer works in the Western Balkans or in the Trio countries.

This is why the European Union is facing a deep geopolitical crisis. Normally, the EU comes out of crises by changing its philosophy in the area that is in the crisis, by coming out of the crisis with a new philosophy, with strengthened and also new policy instruments in the area that was hit by the crisis.

The European Union is currently facing a deep geopolitical crisis in its neighbourhood policy. It is therefore clear that this policy of the European Union will have to change radically. It will require new ideas. Lithuania is one of the few centers where new ideas for such a new philosophy of EU enlargement can be born. And Lithuania must take such an initiative.

d) Establishing the “Ministry of Ukraine”: development of the logistics of global political solidarity networks

d1) Actions in Lithuania:

First, a cross-party, cross-institutional informal working committee should be established, including representatives from various government and Seimas institutions, Lithuanian diplomatic missions, Lithuanian representatives in various EU institutions, and the most active non-governmental organisations. This informal committee should reach a consensus on the establishment of the “Ministry of Ukraine”, the main objectives of its activities and the most important tasks to be carried out in the short term. The initiative to create such an informal nucleus should be taken by the Seimas Committees on Foreign Affairs and European Affairs.

Bearing in mind that the 2027 Lithuanian Presidency will take place after the 2024 Seimas and Presidential elections, a cross-party and cross-institutional agreement on the implementation of the most important geopolitical priority of the 2027 EU Presidency – Ukraine’s accession to the EU – must be pursued without delay now.

Consensus should be sought on the appointment of a Lithuanian special representative for Ukraine’s accession to the EU process, specifically named a special envoy for the Second front (also with responsibility for preparations for 2027);

A concrete action plan for the Preparation for the 2027 Presidency should be drawn up, as well as an agreement on the scope of funding in the state budget  for the Preparation for the 2027 Presidency and the implementation of the strategy for Ukraine’s accession to the European Union;

d2) Actions of the “Ministry of Ukraine” and the Lithuanian state in Ukraine:

First, the Embassy of Lithuania in Ukraine must be radically expanded and strengthened, and its sub-units and honorary consulates in various regions of Ukraine must be reinforced;

Other near-term actions:

– Establishment of a branch of the “Ministry of Ukraine” in Kyiv (attached to the Embassy of Lithuania in Kyiv) under the name of “Lithuanian House”, with the mission to bring together various groups and initiatives of common interest;

– Building Lithuanian business and cultural networks in Ukraine, using the potential and resources of the Lithuanian House; using such networks in the international lobbying campaigns of the Second front;

– Establishment of Lithuanian think tanks in Ukraine and establishing and using contacts with both Ukrainian and Western think tanks for international lobbying;

– Lithuania’s International Development assistance should be substantially increased, Lithuania becoming a significant donor to Ukraine;

– Supporting the development and implementation of Ukraine’s national integration strategy;

 – Supporting Ukraine’s efforts of  international political, economic and cultural lobbying;

– Intense involvement in the key reforms of Ukraine, winning Twining and other EU programmes;

– Working with the main International Financial Institutions (IFIs), which are  operating in Ukraine, the SGUA, the European Commission Representation in Kyiv, the G7 embassies in Kyiv, doing the political lobbying work, and also  developing new instruments of financial and economic support to Ukraine and helping to ensure the effective use of the Marshall Plan for Ukraine;

d3) development of “United for Ukraine (U4U)” – a global network of politicians, experts, media representatives of Western democracies

United for Ukraine (U4U) brings together Ukrainian and Western politicians who care about Ukraine’s success into a single network of information, partnership and joint political actions. The network provides a steady flow of information, initiates joint lobbying campaigns and mobilises the necessary support for Ukraine. It becomes a true joint coalition of the Second front.

A single information and partnership network, running in parallel to the political U4U network, brings together pro-European experts and different think-tanks from the West and the EaP countries who are concerned about the success of Ukraine’s accession to the EU strategy. It also brings together into a partnership network international media representatives who are concerned about the success of Ukraine.

This United for Ukraine coalition should also take the lead in addressing the broader geopolitical challenges of the eastern part of the European continent: the coalition should also find opportunities to address the European integration of the other Trio countries (Georgia, Moldova), the prospects for European rapprochement in Armenia, and the possibilities for the further development of democracy in Belarus and Russia, while keeping in mind the overarching goals and challenges of the third front.

d4) Actions by the “Ministry of Ukraine” in Brussels

– Strengthening the “pro-Ukraine coalition” in the European Parliament;

– Creation of the “pro-Ukraine coalition” in a “Brussels bubble”, bringing together experts  from  all the institutions, think tanks, NGOs and media representatives who care about Ukraine’s success;

– Seminar and conference activities of the “Pro-Ukraine Coalition Forum” at the European Parliament, involving other Brussels institutions, international think tanks and the media;

– Activities of the Friends of European Russia Forum in the European Parliament;

– Engaging Brussels’ network of major geopolitical think tanks in the development of the strategy of “Ukraine’s reunification with the EU”;

– Developing, coordinating and initiating the philosophy and concrete measures of the EU Marshall Plan for Ukraine;

– Developing a strategy for Ukraine’s accession to the EU (rapid European integration), while taking into account the negative historical experience of the EU’s enlargement policy both in the integration of the Eastern Partnership countries and in the Western Balkan.

d5) Geopolitical coalition with Poland

It is clear that the historic partnership between Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland will play a special role in the development and implementation of the strategies of  reconstruction of Ukraine and Ukraine’s accession to the EU, and that this partnership must become even more intense. Therefore, in relations with Poland, alongside the ability to deal with important common economic issues, it is worth regaining the ability to develop a common geopolitical agenda. The Lublin format of the tripartite Ukraine-Poland-Lithuania coalition is designed to do this and should continue to play an even more important role.

However, it would be worth creating two more regular forums:

1) The 20 October Forum to discuss Polish-Lithuanian bilateral geopolitical initiatives;

2) The May 3rd Forum as a regular forum of the broader “pro-Ukraine coalition”, an initiative of Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland.

d6) Establishment of the “pro-Ukraine coalition” in Central Europe and the return of engagement of the Nordic countries

From the European Parliament to national parliaments, a Central European cross-border “pro-Ukraine coalition” should be being built, including representatives of the executive branch;

A joint effort should be made to revitalise the Nordic commitment to the Eastern Partnership region, and in particular to Ukraine.

d7) Activities  in Germany, France, UK, USA, Canada

A system of permanent lobbying by the “pro-Ukraine coalition” together with Ukrainian (and Associated Trio) politicians should be created for regular lobbying in the political corridors of power in Germany, France, the Netherlands, the UK, the US and Canada, to build political support for very specific programmes for Ukraine’s reconstruction and Ukraine’s accession to the EU. It should use the full potential of the United for Ukraine network, be it political, expert, cultural or media. The essential aim of this work is that the electorates of these countries must maintain their strong  support to  Ukraine with all their might, while the identified skeptical leaders of those countries must be converted into enthusiastic supporters for Ukraine, and this must be facilitated by the leaders of the EU countries that are on the side of Ukraine today.

d8) Mobilising the human resources of the “pro-Ukraine coalition” in Brussels

The “Brussels bubble” (the EU institutions) plays and will continue to play an important role in the implementation of both strategies of  the reconstruction of Ukraine and Ukraine’s accession to the EU. These institutions therefore deserve more than the constant lobbying efforts of the “pro-Ukraine coalition” or the United for Ukraine network. It is worth remembering that these institutions are headed by, or have in their important posts specific people who may be indifferent Brussels bureaucrats, or they may be genuine advocates and leaders of Ukraine’s success. There are not many of those advocates at the moment. For this to change, Lithuania needs to have a clear strategy for mobilising human resources in Brussels, with clear targets not only for the quantity but also for the quality of the posts. It is very important to take the initiative now and to start making sure that in the future, in the new term of office starting in 2024, the Commissioner responsible for enlargement of the European Union will be genuinely committed to Ukraine’s success, and that the post of Vice-President of the Commission, responsible for the EU’s foreign and security policy, is finally given to a representative of Central Europe and the Baltic region. That is why a “pro-Ukraine coalition” should be set up now to take care of such matters as well.

d9) Ukrainian, Polish, Lithuanian diaspora – “United for Ukraine”!

The Lithuanian diaspora has played a particularly important role in Lithuania’s path towards Euro-Atlantic integration. Both individually and together with the Baltic and Polish diaspora, the diaspora has been particularly effective in pressuring and lobbying Western parliaments, from the US Congress to the European Parliament.

This experience must be used today as well – the diasporas of Ukraine, Poland, Lithuania and the Baltic States must unite under the banner of United for Ukraine, not only by organising rallies or other public actions, but also by constantly exerting political pressure and lobbying the parliamentarians and the members of the government of their countries.

VII. The Third front – a different Russia

The Third front of our struggle is the fight for a different Russia. For a Russia without Putin, for a Russia that is deputinized. Ultimately, for a democratic Russia. Putin’s war against Ukraine, which Putin will eventually lose, opens up new opportunities for this.

It must be reiterated once again that the extension of democracy to the eastern part of the European continent, to Russia itself, will dramatically change the security situation on the entire European continent. This is one of the European Union’s main objectives. “Europe whole, free and at peace”, i.e. “Europe united, free (including in terms of democratic freedoms) and not at war with each other” is the formula for lasting peace and security on the European continent. Our imagination today is not even capable of naming all the fundamental and positive changes that would be brought about on the European continent if Russia became a democracy.

There is no reason to think that Russia can never become a democracy. If Ukraine has become a successful democracy, if the Belarusians, led by Svetlana Tychanovskaya, are fighting for democracy in their country, it would be a mistake to think that the Russian people are different and that democracy is alien to them. Until now, it has always been Putin’s strategy to prove to the West that Russia can never become a democracy, that it is a semi-wild country, that it will always be ruled by an insane dictator holding the nuclear button, and that therefore the West simply has to adapt to Russia as it is, with Putin at the forefront of such Russia, because if the West does not adapt to such undemocratic Russia, the Kremlin might get angry and then the West will suffer of Russia’s mad behavior. Even before the war, in September 2020, the European Parliament adopted recommendations to the EU institutions on a strategy for relations with Russia[3] and in these recommendations, it was made clear that the European Union’s priority in its relations with Russia must be to focus on the opportunities for democratic transformation in Russia. With the outbreak of Putin’s war against Ukraine, this Western policy priority in relations with Russia becomes even more important.

The Third front must have clear objectives (stopping the war and stopping Putin; supporting the opposition and the prospect of a “different Russia”; supporting the expansion of democracy to the eastern half of the European continent) and the means to achieve them.

The field of action of the Third front is first of all Russia itself; secondly, the West, where much of the opposition to Putin is currently based, and the political leaders of the West, who must believe in the possibility of a “different Russia” and work for it; and thirdly, Russia’s neighbours, especially Ukraine, whose success may inspire ordinary Russians to strive for the same change.

The most important goal in the short term is to stop the war and force Putin to step back. This requires the most painful sanctions against Russia from the outset, and those sanctions must remain in place until the last Russian soldier leaves the occupied territories of Ukraine, including those occupied in 2014. Putin must also be aware that Russia will have to pay reparations (including in the form of assets now frozen by Western sanctions against the state of Russia or individual oligarchs) for the damage that Putin’s war has caused to Ukraine, and that Putin and his entourage and Lukashenko will have to answer for their war crimes before the International Criminal Tribunal.

These provisions must not only become a clear common Western political position, but also a Western legal requirement for Russia, should Putin offer to negotiate a peace in the war against Ukraine.

It must also be important for the West, both during this war and especially after the war, to take care of the liberal opposition to Putin, both those from opposition who remain in Russia and those who have fled to the West in order to escape from the persecution of Putin. On this third front, we must stand shoulder to shoulder with the Russian opposition, both by helping them to proclaim the dream of a ”different Russia” within Russia itself and by fighting alongside them for the West’s belief in the possibility of a different Russia. The third information front, which has to operate in Russia itself, requires a concerted effort by the Russian opposition and the West, both in terms of funding and building the necessary communication infrastructure and in terms of information content.

Despite the confusion caused by Putin’s war against Ukraine, the European Union must not delay too long in drawing up a strategy for its future relations with democratic Russia (together with experts from the Russian opposition), which will help  ordinary Russians to  realise how much they are losing just by not living in a “Russia without Putin”; the drawing up of such a joint strategy would also help the Russian opposition to unite and mobilise its intellectual capital, which is currently spread all over the Western world. After all, in the wake of the democratic transformation in Russia, such a strategy would be necessary from the very first days in order for the European Union to be able to help to stabilize Russia’s new fledgling, revived democracy.

For the Third front fighting for democracy in Russia, victories on the first two fronts will be crucial. Simply, because Ukraine’s success, both in defending itself in the war and, with the West’s help, in recovering from the war and rapidly integrating into the European Union, would be a major source of inspiration for ordinary Russians to bring about change at home. Because ordinary Russians would also like to live like Europeans.

The implementation of such a Third front strategy by Lithuania would require the same skills as the implementation of the Second front strategy – clear ideas, and the ability to build coalitions of both the Russian opposition and the West to implement such strategies. It requires consistent work with the Russian public, helping them to deputinize themselves, and with Western capitals, helping them not to return to business as usual with Putin.

In the initial phase, the same “Ministry of Ukraine” in Lithuania could organise such an implementation of a Third front strategy.

IX. Partnership with the US – a guarantee of success on three fronts

It is absolutely clear that joint success on all three fronts is only possible if victories on these fronts are pursued together with the most important partner in the struggle for the development of democracy in the eastern part of the European continent, namely with  the United States of America. The United States is not only important in helping us to defend ourselves. The partnership with the United States is also important for the success of Ukraine, for our common actions in the EU capitals in order to achieve  success in all three fronts, and for supporting the development of democracy both in neighbouring Belarus and in Russia itself.

Partnership requires mutual solidarity – we care about Ukraine, we care about the development of democracy and security in our region, the United States cares about Taiwan, and about security in the Indo-Pacific. If we want the Americans to share with us our concerns on the three fronts in our region, we need to be with them on the fronts of the regions they care about.

X. Why we care about the success of the Global Democracy Front: the inevitable transformation of authoritarianism into aggression. China’s prospects

Putin’s war against Ukraine has shown two important things: firstly, authoritarian Russia is far behind democratic Ukraine and the West in terms of technological, economic and moral development; secondly, authoritarian regimes in the eastern part of the European continent are becoming more and more nervous over time, and at the end are eventually becoming criminal aggressors.

It is likely that these trends will become increasingly visible around the world: authoritarian regimes, unable to compete with global democracy and losing the loyalty of their citizens, will become increasingly nervous and eventually turn to outright aggression. At the same time, their technological backwardness will become more and more apparent, despite all their own propaganda about their supposedly great  achievements. Such trends may well be evident in the development of authoritarian China in the coming decades, for which the democratic world must prepare now.

The global competition between democracies and the fight against authoritarian regimes may soon lead to a 4th wave of global democratisation, according to Samuel Huntington. Such trends would be very favourable for Lithuania, as it would facilitate the democratic transition in neighbouring Belarus and Russia.

Therefore, Lithuania must do its utmost to contribute to and actively participate in the formation of a global coalition of democracies. The global development of democracy, including in our region, is a key geopolitical security interest for Lithuania.

XI. Protecting our political field from hybrid threats: accounting for and measuring our investments into authoritarian economies

Lithuania’s successful struggle for the development of democracy on three global fronts requires one prerequisite: a secure democratic foothold at home. We talk a lot about protecting our democracy from the hybrid interference of third countries (Belarus, Russia, China), we have learned to shut down the Kremlin’s propaganda channels, we have protected the security of election campaign financing, we have controlled foreign investment from untrustworthy countries, but we are still not fully protected from our own individuals, who become the relayers of foreign influences in Lithuania.

It is not the first time that Lithuanian business, having established its activities in a market ruled by an authoritarian government (Russia, Belarus, China) or having established intensive trade relations with such a market, is forced by that authoritarian government to become an agent of its hybrid propaganda or political activities. This has been repeatedly reported by the State Security Department, and has been the subject of significant studies by international experts[4]. During recent visit of European Parliament delegation to Taiwan, Taiwanese politicians have spoken openly about how China is trying to exploit Taiwan’s investments to  China in such a  way.

Such trends in the struggle of democracies against authoritarian regimes, which are ruling large economies, are becoming increasingly dangerous, especially for Lithuania’s foreign and security policy. Lithuania must learn to defend itself against such threats. This can be achieved by starting to assess from a security point of view not only investments coming into Lithuania, but also Lithuanian business investments or other business relations with economies ruled by authoritarian governments.

Instead of epilogue: how to use Jack Welsh “4E and 1P” principles in the implementation of Lithuania’s foreign policy strategy

The upheaval caused by Putin’s war against Ukraine will trigger a series of geopolitical shifts both on the European continent and globally.

In the future, we may face entirely new challenges to our geopolitical security, but also we may find entirely new opportunities to address our most important and enduring geopolitical security challenges.

All this will also require changes in the strategies and tactics used to achieve our key foreign policy objectives.

The most important thing is for us to deepen our belief that we ourselves can do a lot on all three fronts. If we have new ideas and are able to build coalitions of like-minded people. Our strength is not in what we can do alone to help Ukraine, but in how much we can find like-minded people and comrades to help Ukraine. Our task is not only to do the right thing ourselves, but also to help our Western partners find the right solutions.

The most important thing is to believe in our own strength and always remember the famous 4Es and 1P principles successfully applied in the management of big global  company by Jack Welch, former CEO of the General Electric. We need to learn how to use the same principles, when fighting for the implementation of the goals that are important for Lithuania.

According to Welch, the same 4Es and 1Ps principles are important in all activities:

1E: Energy – the ability to demonstrate energy, enthusiasm; the ability to initiate new projects, new strategies with a lot of energy;

2E: Energize – the ability to convince and infect others with your energy, to build coalitions of like-minded people;

3E: Edge – the ability to make bold and clear “yes” or “no” decisions, even if they are met with a lot of criticism and dissatisfaction at the initial discussion;

4E: Execute – the ability to implement decisions and to effectively achieve a goal on any front.

1P: Passion – the ability to work, to commit oneself passionately to one’s work and purpose.

These principles have made General Electric a global leader.

Lithuania’s foreign policy is facing a time of new challenges and new opportunities. The 4Es and 1P principles are what can help us to use the opening opportunities in the most effective way during these turbulent times of great change. And to take energetic leadership.

[1] CEPS study, https://www.ceps.eu/download/publication/?id=32341&pdf=Balkan-and-Eastern-European-Comparisons.pdf)

[2] A.Kubilius, R.Stanionis “Eastern Partnership ‘Beyond Westlessness: A New Momentum For The European Integration”, https://elpnariai.lt/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/EaP-Beyond-Westlessness.pdf

[3] https://www.europarl.europa.eu/doceo/document/TA-9-2021-0383_EN.html.

[4] “Kremlin Playbook: Understanding Russian Influence in Central and Eastern Europe”, https://www.csis.org/analysis/kremlin-playbook

EPP Lithuanian office
EPP Lithuanian Office
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