Edward Lucas: Lithuania will suffer most from Moscow’s embargo

Edward Lucas
DELFI (A.Didžgalvio nuotr.)

“I hope the West will use this situation and will buy Lithuanian goods more actively. I have been actively encouraging people not to by Russian goods over the years, because in that country business is tied to a criminal regime. There has always been the possibility of relations with Russia going worse. This is why I always encourage our country to diversify its exports and not focus solely on Russia. I hope countries that have been hit by sanctions will use this to change the profiles of their economies,” he said.

When asked if Russia’s sanctions could split Europe, since Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb has said he is prepared to request compensation for the possible economic crisis from the European Union, the expert said businesses should consider risks every time.

“It would not be fair to impose taxes on other companies in order to compensate losses of companies that worked with Russia for easy money. It is possible to temporarily amend regulations. But I believe the EU should avoid the Russian market and decrease its reliance on it. It is a complicated thing, but the EU should take this lesson into consideration,” he said.

As Lucas notes, the Cold War between the West and Russia never truly ended, and the situation has only worsened in the past several years, after Vladimir Putin became president again.

He predicts that the situation in Russia will only get worse. “Putin is leading himself into a corner. He tries to demonize Ukraine and the West, attempting to convince people that Ukraine is ruled by fascists who murder children and commit other crimes against humanity. It is not true, but Russian people believe these lies. It will be hard for Putin to resign after the Ukrainian crisis. He could begin doing more dirty work in Moldova or even the Baltic States, he will try to put economic pressure on Ukraine,” said Lucas.

He is sceptical about the possibility that the recent events, including the downing of the Malaysian passenger plane, could serve as a turning point in Europe’s understanding of Russia.

“These events will not push Europe to finally understand what it is dealing with. The good news is that Ukrainian forces continue to win against armed militants. Nevertheless, Ukraine is facing other problems. The country is in a state of economic crisis, it needs to restore its political stage […] and the West should help Ukraine overcome these problems. Although I am not sure Brussels is ready for this. I also doubt NATO understands that the security situation in Baltic States has changed and that there are now serious threats before them. I don’t know if there are leaders in the European Commission who can overcome these problems. I am disappointed in the USA and its attitude towards events in Ukraine. I don’t think Barack Obama wants to get involved in solving Europe’s security problems,” believes Lucas.

According to him, Russia has effectively improved its “peacekeeping” tactics in South Ossetia and Abhazia. Lucas believes Russia must not be allowed to continue doing this. However, it is a complicated objective and a challenge to Europe.

The editor of The Economist predicts that Putin will continue his policy of aggression and repression. He also believes officials close to Putin are interested in the deterioration of the situation in the West. Even if Putin is put on the sidelines for insufficient actions in Ukraine, Russia faces a sad future, isolation and instability, he said.

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