Moscow on Saturday demanded that the Baltic countries take action to protect Russian embassies after the attack on a Russian diplomat in Vilnius at the end of February. According to experts, the demand is not surprising, as it is intended to engage in a “losing battle in the Western information space” and exploit all current and past stories to its advantage. Together with Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, they warn the population to remain calm and avoid provocations at all costs, Andresa Rupšytė writes in TV3.lt.
“We warn Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn that they are responsible for the consequences of the anti-Russian psychosis they have unleashed,” the Russian foreign ministry was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.
Dovilė Jakniūnaitė, a professor at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science (IIPRS), said Moscow’s statement was not unexpected.
According to her, if there had not even been a hint that the Lithuanian population has a strong opinion against the Kremlin’s actions, Russian information actors would have exploited all provocations or certain past stories.
“This can be seen as a desire to exploit every true and false story for their purposes, for their propaganda struggle – all of which will be blown up, exploited, and many times exaggerated and gossiped about both inside and outside Russia. <…> In this sense, it is not surprising at all, and this kind of statement, threats and innuendos are observed in other Central Eastern European countries – this is a desire to engage in a losing battle in the Western information space”, says the professor.
Vytis Jurkonis, a political scientist at the TSPMI, stresses that this whole incident, when seen in the context of what is happening in the country that Russia is attacking, “is a small episode, and we should not divert our attention from what we have to do, which is to help Ukraine with all our efforts”.
He also stresses that if any suspicion of illegal actions arises, the responsible Lithuanian authorities investigate them.
“This does not require any instructions from the Russian, German or Chinese embassies. Lithuania has its obligations, and it is fulfilling them. <…> Knowing the circumstances under which this happened, there is no need to look into whether it was a provocation or not. There could be possibilities from A to Z that somebody’s nerves failed or that the whole thing could be staged. There are many possibilities, but you have to look at the specific facts”, says Jurkonis.
The Prime Minister reacted to Moscow’s statement
On Saturday, Prime Minister Šimonytė also reacted to Moscow’s statement to the Baltic countries. She once again warned the people of Lithuania to remain calm and to avoid at all costs any provocations or misunderstandings that could be used for Kremlin propaganda.
“You may have noticed that yesterday this was done, there were some statements from the (Russian) Foreign Ministry. It’s not really of much value to comment on them.
But I would like to point out once again to all our citizens, fellow citizens, all people who are not indifferent to what is happening in Ukraine, who are indifferent to aid and assistance in various forms, that every effort must be made to ensure that nothing we do is easy prey for the Kremlin propagandists,” the Prime Minister said.
Russian information space was not ready
According to the police summary, on 24 February at around 7 p.m. On 24 February 24, 20 min. The suspect was taken into custody.
Julia Samorokovskaja, a spokeswoman for the Vilnius District Chief Police Commissariat, confirmed to LRT that the person beaten was the third secretary of the diplomatic service of the Russian Embassy.
When asked why Moscow reacted to this incident only on 5 March, and not immediately, the professor says that this is yet another indication of the lack of coordinated information from Russia since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine.
“When the war broke out, the Russian information space and the people who work there were not prepared. The civilian sector was in a state of great confusion and total non-communication. So it took a few days to start producing things with wider stories to speed up the Russian public space. Now it has been coordinated, and more and more of these all sorts of statements are going to start, my guess.”
Police: embassies are protected
On Saturday, Police Department spokesman Ramūnas Matonis confirmed that the Russian and Belarusian embassies are protected.
“The embassies have been secured all the time, it’s our internal matters how the security is carried out, but it is secured. Measures have been taken to ensure security, as much as is necessary, as much capacity is available,” Matonis told BNS on Saturday.
The prime minister earlier this week asked the police to beef up security at the Russian and Belarusian embassies while urging people to avoid provocations during protests so that they are not used for hostile propaganda.
“I think that the Lithuanian people not only can, but must express their opinion, but I would strongly urge and ask them to do everything possible to avoid any provocations and misunderstandings, so as not to create pretexts for the Russian Federation and Belarus to use some events in Lithuania for their own propaganda purposes,” the Prime Minister said at a press conference last Monday.
Experts: Kremlin did not expect unanimous popular support for Ukraine
From the very first day of the Kremlin’s declaration of war on Ukraine, daily actions have supported Ukraine in Europe, including in Lithuanian cities.
When asked whether Russian President Vladimir Putin expected this united stance from the people of Europe, experts say that Putin did not expect this and other things.
“They did not expect the Ukrainians to be so resistant. They did not expect such Western support. They are spreading the message that Ukraine is left alone.
The support is indeed huge. I think the public wants even more support, and that is humanly understandable. However, given the gravity of the situation in Ukraine against civilians, I would like to see all measures taken to stop it”, said Mr Jurkonis.
“They were hoping for a relatively quick war [victory] and acknowledgement of the facts. They did not expect this scale of sanctions, nor did they expect this scale of support. The worst-case scenario that was expected was far from the worst,” says Jakniūnaitė.
We recall that Russia invaded Ukraine at the end of February and launched a war that caused consternation and anger worldwide. The West responded with sanctions against Russia and various forms of support for Ukraine, including military support.
In response to the evolving security situation, NATO strengthened the Alliance’s defence on its eastern flank.