Should Lithuania intervene in the conflict between Poland and Ukraine?

President Zelensky at the Vilnius Lukiškių Sq. during the Vilnius NATO Summit. Photo Ruslanas Iržikevičius

“Everyone needs to manage their emotions,” said former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Ambassador-at-Large for Special Assignments Linas Linkevičius, in response to the recent conflict between Ukraine and Poland, when the latter announced that it would no longer provide arms for the defence of the state against Russia, Žinių Radijas states in

According to him, in this situation, it is crucial to understand the rhetoric of the Ukrainians who fight for their lives and existence every day. However, it is vital not to forget that the goal of all democratic states today is the same.

According to L. Linkevičius, such a decision by Poland should not impact the findings of other NATO allies regarding military assistance.

On 20 September, Poland announced it would no longer arm Ukraine and focus on its defence needs, citing a crucial moment in Kyiv’s fight against the invading Russian military.

As the dispute over Ukrainian grain exports escalated, Poland summoned the Ukrainian ambassador to express protest over President Volodymyr Zelensky’s comments at the United Nations. Ukraine’s leader stated that some countries only pretend to support Kyiv, whose military forces are currently conducting a counteroffensive.

This insulted Warsaw, one of Ukraine’s most loyal supporters since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in the summer of 2022.

Did emotions flare up?

“That there’s a surge of emotions, that’s a fact. Of course, Poland has been a great help, and to deny or not see that they were leaders, sheltering a million refugees (we can’t do that). It will remain the same in the future.

But when they heard accusations that their behaviour, by banning grain exports from Ukraine, practically helped Russia, it was also a blow below the belt for them, and they reacted emotionally. I believe that after the storm subsides, we will hear different comments, and everything will settle down,” said L. Linkevičius.

According to the former foreign affairs minister, at this moment, everyone should “manage their emotions.”

“I could understand the Ukrainians themselves. I would remind you of Volodymyr Zelensky’s sharp criticism before the NATO summit in Vilnius when there was also concern that there was no gratitude from the Ukrainians, and after that, I think journalists counted that V. Zelensky thanked 45 times.

Emotionally, perhaps, we should understand the Ukrainians more in the sense that they sacrifice lives every day; there is a struggle for existence, for life, for survival, and every nuance that hinders them, they take very close to the heart, and sometimes those emotions come to the surface,” Ambassador-at-Large reasoned.

However, according to L. Linkevičius, Ukraine’s president was never a professional politician, so sometimes his rhetoric could be understood.

“V. Zelensky was an actor, an emotional person, and perhaps he has already learned to control all of this in public rhetoric, but sometimes it breaks through. I think everyone should calm down a bit, and I believe that everything will settle down,” he said.

The former foreign affairs minister did not doubt that Poland would continue to supply arms to Ukraine in the future and reminded that today, almost every statement is assessed in the context of the upcoming elections in Poland.

“You can’t attribute everything to the elections here, but their significance and influence are quite significant,” L. Linkevičius concluded.”

Mediation by Lithuania is not necessary

Ambassador-at-Large for Special Assignments also believes Lithuania should refrain from meditating in resolving the tension between Poland and Ukraine. Such thoughts have already been heard in the public sphere.

“And they will understand it themselves. The situation is such that you can always find some hostilities. In fact, in the history of Lithuania and Poland, one can also find such things. Or, let’s say, the Volhynian tragedy – in Warsaw, there have been protests against Ukraine even during the war. Some forces want to ignite this discord and amuse propagandists in Russia.

Sometimes, while showing one’s principles, it should be remembered that the enemy doesn’t sleep, and they will exploit it. I believe a more robust argument would be not to make life easier for the enemy,” explained L. Linkevičius.

Asked what signal such an event sends to other states that support Ukraine, the ambassador urged to remember that different opinions exist everywhere, so it should not have a significant impact.

“In other countries, there’s everything as well. Some support more if we talk about the grain export blockade; remember Hungary and Slovakia. When we speak about doubts about whether to increase or maintain military aid at the same pace, there are also various comments in the United States. All of this has been and will be, which should be considered a standard factor. The trend is such that support needs to be maintained, and all statements and commitments from the highest platforms continue,” said L. Linkevičius.
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