Could Grybauskaitė have replaced the current NATO leader?

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen
Dalia Grybauskaitė and Anders Fogh Rasmussen Photo

Former Lithuanian President Answers Where the Obstacle Lies Former Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, once considered a candidate for the post of NATO Secretary General, now says her tough stance on Russia, including calls for Russia to be defeated in Ukraine before any peace talks could begin, probably blocked her path to the post of NATO leader, The New York Times reports, Agnė Liubertaitė writing at news portal.

Grybauskaitė, who led Lithuania from 2009 to 2019, said in an interview this week that NATO’s top diplomatic post usually goes to someone who has the support of all of the alliance’s 30 member states. And she added: “I am not.”

“Some countries may think that my strong stance towards Russia is an obstacle,” Grybauskaitė said on Tuesday’s side of the annual Reykjavik World Forum for Women Leaders. “Russia needs to be treated as a terrorist, not negotiated and compromised with.”

Although the United States and its European allies have provided Ukraine with billions of dollars in arms and aid, they have been hesitant to risk a bigger war. The aim is to avoid direct NATO military intervention or attacks on Russian territory at all costs.

However, Grybauskaitė argued that NATO countries should supply Ukraine with even more military equipment and equipment that countries, including the US, have been reluctant to provide, such as long-range missiles capable of striking Russian territory.

She did not rule out the possibility that Western troops could also appear on the battlefield. “The response must be adequate to the attack,” Grybauskaitė said.

However, her view was only sometimes shared by some other participants at the Reykjavik Forum. 

In a separate interview on Wednesday, Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles Fernández said that “it is true that maybe they need more weapons to defend themselves”. 

“At the moment, we are making every effort to prevent the conflict from escalating because NATO cannot be part of this conflict,” Mrs Robles said.

But she also made it clear that the resistance to Russian aggression is strong. “We must not forget there is only one man to blame: Putin”, she said.

D. Grybauskaitė, a veteran Lithuanian diplomat and former EU Commissioner whose toughness has led to comparisons with Margaret Thatcher, was mentioned last year as a possible candidate for the post of NATO Secretary General when current Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg steps down.

He was initially due to do so last September, but his term was extended by another year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

A behind-the-scenes search for the next Secretary is currently underway, focusing on female candidates, but Grybauskaitė is no longer among the favourites. Instead, Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, is now receiving the most attention.
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