Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite condemned Russia’s offensive military actions (Zapad 2017) at the UN.

Shown here is UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (on the right) meeting with Dalia Grybauskaite, President of the Republic of Lithuania, at UN Headquarters in New York during September 2017. The yellow, green, and red Lithuanian flag is pictured close to President Grybauskaite. UN Photo/Ariana Lindquist.

At this year’s general debate of the United Nations General Assembly on September 19, Dalia Grybauskaite, President of the Republic of Lithuania, stated that although “the topic of this year’s debate invites us to focus on people and our responsibility to insure their peaceful and sustainable future, however, in today’s world such a peaceful future is threatened as never before.”

The Lithuanian President went on to say: “Authoritarian regimes continue to kill with impunity, extremist ideologies treat innocent people with unspeakable cruelty and thousands die after leaving their homes in search for better lives. The world’s attention is now focused on North Korea and Syria, but the same methods of blackmail, bullying and aggression are being used by Russia in Ukraine and along NATO’s eastern border.”

The Lithuanian President explained, “As we speak, around one hundred thousand Russian troops are engaged in offensive military exercises “Zapad 2017″ on the borders of the Baltic States, Poland, and even in the Arctic. The Kremlin is rehearsing aggressive scenarios against its neighbors, training its army to attack the West. The exercise is also part of information warfare aimed at spreading uncertainty and fear.”

The President added, “Even more disturbingly, Zapad exercise is just one symptom of the Kremlin’s inability to finally end its hatred towards the West. Despite Russia’s special responsibility to protect international peace as a permanent member of the Security Council, it violated the UN Charter by attacking Georgia, illegally annexing Crimea, and directly participating in the war in Eastern Ukraine.”

The President of the Republic of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, also said: “The Kremlin’s arsenal does not stop at conventional weapons. Russia continues to meddle in elections, conducts cyber-attacks, and uses its “sputniks” to spread fake news and destabilizing propaganda.”

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite condemned Russia's offensive military actions (Zapad 2017) at the UN.
Pictured is Dalia Grybauskaite, President of the Republic of Lithuania, addressing the general debate of the UN General Assembly’s seventy-second session on September l9, 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York. UN Photo/ Cia Pak.

In addition, she brought out the fact that “Energy blackmail has long become Russia’s weapon of choice. In Belarus, just forty kilometres from Lithuania’s capital, it is building the unsafe Astravets nuclear power plant as a geopolitical weapon that fails to comply with basic international nuclear standards.”

In her closing remarks, Lithuanian President Grybauskaite stated: “Abuses and indifference to basic international norms by regimes across the world are not unrelated cases. Too often they are a result of our collective failure to condemn a properly react to violations. Time and time again, we have no courage to enforce the rules that we ourselves create. We draw lines in the sand and then pretend they don’t exist. This has to change.”

As she put it, “Bullies are aggressive precisely because they are weak and insecure. That is why we mus stop being passive observers and start calling things by their own names. Aggression cannot make anyone stronger. It can never earn even a drop of respect. The only thing that aggression will bring is contempt, shame, and condemnation.”

Lithuanian President Grybauskaite wrapped up her statement by saying, “The international community has to take its share of responsibility. We cannot let fear win by closing our eyes to violators. because it will only encourage them to go further. We must learn to read the warning signs because abuse of human rights, nationalistic rhetoric and suppression of free speech explode into violence if ignored.”

“Finally”, she stated, “we must change the UN. This unique universal body was created to save the world from wars. So far, it has failed to fulfil this promis. Now, we face the choice: either to give this organization the voice to rise against the abuse, or we will make it irrelevant.”