Lithuania Supports Macron's Idea To Send NATO Troops To Ukraine

After a meeting with his British counterpart David Cameron in London, Gabrielius Landsbergis also supported the British foreign minister's statement that Ukraine could use British-made weapons against Russia

by Sededin Dedovic
Lithuania Supports Macron's Idea To Send NATO Troops To Ukraine
© Omar Havana / Getty Images

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania has pointed out the possibility of an ad hoc coalition of Western countries sending military personnel to Ukraine for training, with the support of ground-based air defense, just days after Russia has taken a harsher tone against what it sees as threats of deeper Western involvement in the war.

In an interview with The Guardian after meeting with his British counterpart David Cameron in London, Gabrielius Landsbergis also echoed the British Foreign Secretary's statement that Ukraine could use British-made weapons against Russia.

Landsbergis has long called for tougher action against Russia, but his recent statements have shown support in parts of Europe for the muscular line recently adopted by the French president. Macron shocked some European colleagues and angered Russia by saying that the West should not rule out sending troops to Ukraine.

"Our troops trained Ukrainians in Ukraine before the war, and we've been doing that for many years. So, returning to this tradition could be quite feasible," Landsbergis said. "This could be the first step in President Macron's initiative."

: Minister for Foreign Affairs of Latvia, Krišjānis Kariņš, (L) Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, Gabrielius Landsbe© Johannes Simon / Getty Images

He said the proposal to train Ukrainians within their country is "more practical" than training that takes place on the territory of NATO members.

The Lithuanian parliament has already given the government a mandate for training within Ukraine, he noted, and it would be best done as part of a larger coalition. Facing widespread criticism, Macron stuck to the idea of ​​sending troops to Ukraine, arguing that it is legitimate to leave Russia guessing about what the West is willing to do to defend Ukrainian sovereignty.

Strategic ambiguity unsettles Vladimir Putin, he said. Landsbergis said Macron's comments had already had an impact as the Kremlin recalculated. Still, he said, "there is a lot of frustration" in Ukraine. "The Ukrainians make it clear, especially Dmitro Kuleba, the foreign minister, what Patriot batteries are needed and how they will be used.

It's impossible to make it clearer," he said. "The damage we see - that's on us, that's our failure. It sounds like a Russian success, but they can do it blindfolded if we can't defend Ukrainian cities. They just bomb the brain centers of the power grid, which is much harder to fix." Looking to next winter, it's honestly very difficult for me to imagine how the country will fare.

"I would like some of the larger countries to take the lead on issues like air defense, tank coalitions, or anything else," he said. Landsbergis called on Britain to take on a greater role in Ukraine. "There is a need. There is potential, and there are things we can do together." He highlighted Britain's potential role in confronting the hybrid threat posed by Russia, something he described as a new reality but not part of conventional military warfare.

"There is the possibility of kinetic hybrid activity, which means physical attacks, arson, violence against individuals," he said, adding that these attacks do not fall under the traditional definition of an attack to be addressed through Article 5 of NATO.

"What do you do when the factory is burnt down or when there is an attack obviously financed by Russia? How are they defined and addressed?" he asked. "We need greater cooperation and exchange of information between intelligence services, but also between politicians." French President Emmanuel Macron spoke again last week about the possibility of sending Western troops to Ukraine, saying that the question should be whether Moscow will breach the front lines and whether Kiev has made such a request.

President of France Emmanuel Macron (L) offers his hand to President of the Peoples Republic of China Xi Jinping (C) as he welco© Kiran Ridley / Getty Images

"If the Russians were to start and breach the front lines, if there were a Ukrainian request, which is not the case today, it would be legitimate to ask ourselves (about the participation of Western troops in combat)," the French president told The Economist.

Macron then said that the possibility should not be a priori excluded, as reported by AFP, recalling that NATO countries initially ruled out sending tanks and planes to Ukraine, but later changed their minds. "As I have already said, I exclude nothing, because we are facing someone who excludes nothing," added the French head of state.

Macron had previously said he was "not afraid" of Russia. "We are not facing a great power. Russia is a middle power with nuclear weapons, whose Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is much lower than Europe's, lower than Germany's, lower than France's," Macron said.

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