The Conservatives explained what’s happening with Anušauskas: now he’s in trouble

Arvydas Anušauskas
Arvydas Anušauskas DELFI / Karolina Pansevič

Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė’s suggestion that Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas resign and instead give way to the Chairman of the Committee on National Security and Defence, Laurynas Kasčiūnas, provoked further reaction from the Minister, but did not go down well with the politicians of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats, Eglė Samoškaitė wrote in

On Saturday, during a visit to President Gitanas Nausėda, Anušauskas said he understood that he could not continue to work without the Prime Minister’s political support. Still, at the same time, he raised doubts about public procurement in the field of defence, claiming that he had to close the door to companies that tried to bribe the employees of the national defence system, but that these companies had allegedly found an open door in the Seimas. President Nausėda then clarified that Anušauskas was referring specifically to National Security and Defence Committee members.

However, the Special Investigation Service quickly reacted by stating that it had not received any reports of corruption from the Ministry of National Defence, with the exception of a letter informative about an enquiry to the Ministry by Raimundas Lopata, a representative of the Liberal Movement.

And then the Conservatives’ blood boiled. They realised that Anušauskas was trying to prevent Kasčiūnas from taking up the Minister of National Defence post because, in the presence of the shadow of suspicion, the President might not be willing to risk appointing him (Mr. Kasčiūnas-editorial note). Especially since Kasčiūnas did not become Minister in 2020 from the outset, precisely because of the President’s opposition to this nomination.

“Anušauskas was told to step down, and he started to act out. The situation could have been straightforward: he would have made a quiet statement, which would have been the gentlemanly form of normal politics. And now he has made some telling. And anyway, he is annoying. I’m fed up with his inactivity, silence, inability. I would say – he’s gotten fat,” one of the members of the Seimas of the Homeland Union of Lithuanian Christian Democrats said. 

Reasons for Anušauskas’ dismissal

The news that Prime Minister Šimonytė, the leader of the Conservatives, Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabrielius Landsbergis and the Chairman of the Committee on National Security and Defence, Kasčiūnas, are not satisfied with the work of the Minister of National Defence has been circulating for a long time. It has been constantly discussed in non-public gatherings, but the Prime Minister, as the Head of the Ministry, delayed the decision for a long time.

“I believe that the root causes are the lack of a unifying leadership both in the Seimas and in the wider political-institutional and even party community and civil society – lack of proactivity, initiative, speed and energy. Nothing has been done on the part of the Minister to mobilise support, for example, the defence tax. This has been left largely to the Prime Minister, and there has been no proactive help. The Chairman of the Committee on National Security and Defence has been more helpful than the Minister. Which might be justified in calm times, but not when the gloomier geopolitical clouds are gathering,” said another conservative with broader connections.

“There was a need to move from reacting to proactive policy and initiative building, which was lacking. Not preparing for worse scenarios in international politics, a passive posture and a lack of initiative. I think these are the main reasons. Why now? I would guess it is because this passivity has accumulated, and as the geopolitical situation gets gloomier, it is necessary to move up a gear or a speed. I would also relate it to the start of the session of the Seimas because the new Minister has to take the oath of office in the Seimas, which is not possible when Seimas is not in session,” he continued.

In this case, the deterioration of the geopolitical situation includes Ukraine’s unsuccessful attempts to regain the territories occupied by Russia, the West’s fatigue and passivity, and Russia’s unabated ferocity. Moreover, there are fears about what will happen if Donald Trump wins the US presidential election. This could limit the US’s active participation in NATO, which would be a real tragedy for Lithuania and other Eastern European countries. All of them are consistently arming themselves.

The speaker was quite sure that Anušauskas’s statements about companies rushing into public procurement and the allegedly open doors in the Seimas were simply an attempt to throw shade at the Chairman of the Committee on National Security and Defence, Kasčiūnas. However, the effort was not very successful due to the quick reaction of the Special Investigation Service.

The relationship between Anušauskas and Kasčiūnas has long been strained. There has been a fierce struggle between them, which is also due to natural human qualities. While Kasčiūnas is characterised by a drive for goals and a disregard for obstacles and boundaries, Anušauskas is calmer and quick to take offence, and he does not speak English, which has been a problem. Anušauskas also did not fit in when party leader Gabrielius Landsbergis suddenly warned that Lithuania should prepare for the worst-case scenario.

 Final missteps

One Conservative claim that the Prime Minister has been tolerating Anušauskas, but recently, things have been transformed into chaos. According to accounts, the Minister has been behaving very strangely. For example, after he visited the US, he presented it as a new thing that Lithuania had secured an uninterrupted US military presence in Lithuania, even though this presence is, in any case, still subject to a US decision, and the current rotational presence is confirmed until 2025. If the US decides otherwise, it could change its decision.

Moreover, Anušauskas publicly announced that an unnamed country would provide Lithuania with one Patriot air defence system, which was premature. The ambassadors of the countries with which Lithuania is negotiating have reacted to the Minister’s announcement, as several countries are in talks.

Finally, Anušauskas announced that he welcomed the German military industrial giant Rheinmetall’s consideration of building an artillery factory in Lithuania, even though he had not contributed to it in any way. The people who had actually worked on it were terribly angry at the Minister’s taking credit for it.

“And the way it is coming out is terrible,” said a speaker from the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats.

Can focus on European Parliament elections

Conservatives believe that Anušauskas, forced to resign, will concentrate on the European Parliament elections, where he is standing in Position 8. Since voters can rank the list and Anušauskas is the most popular Conservative politician, he may have serious hopes. In addition, Anušauskas has a reputation for being quite a graffomaniac, so the Conservatives are considering putting his adventures in the Ministry of National Defence in book form.

However, to remain on the list of candidates for the European Parliament, Anušauskas will not be able to rock the boat too much and stir up the anger of his colleagues in the party. Otherwise, he could be expelled from the party and lose his political future.

“If Anušauskas makes a drastic action of himself, he is burying himself because damage is done. But if he stops, seeing the reaction, then we would also be thinking about how to proceed with the least communication losses. But it is a fact that everyone is angry because Anušauskas stabbed us in the back. He may not be lynched immediately just for the sake of peace if he stops,” pointed out the Conservative MP.

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