The president of Lithuania said America “will not be great at all” if it negates its role in global “security architecture” through alliances such as NATO.
President Dalia Grybauskaitė told CNN on Sunday that “the challenge of security is equally important for everybody in the world, and for the United States to stay a leader in the world on security, it’s utmost important.”
“And we don’t think that there is an interest at all for the United States to change this international position” after the election of Donald Trump, she said.
Russia recently moved short-range Iskander missiles into Kaliningrad, an oblast along the Baltic coast between Poland and Lithuania. At the end of October, the Lithuanian government sent updated manuals to citizens on what to do in the event of a Russian invasion.
“We’re a neighboring country. We do see exercises. We do see behavior in air, in our air space. We see the behavior in the Baltic Sea and submarines riding around around our borders,” Grybauskaitė said. “So of course the behavior in Ukraine, all this added to Russia’s behavior and allowed us to describe it as aggressive, unpredictable and very dangerous behavior.”
“And now we see the probably largest tensions between the West and Russia, tensions in the relations after — post-Cold-War. And that’s exactly what allowed us to describe such kind of behavior as it was described.”
Trump has promised to improve relations between the White House and the Kremlin. Asked if she fears Eastern European security will be sacrificed in order to achieve that goal, Grybauskaitė replied that “it’s not only about how America needs to be supportive and helpful, but we would like to see America really still important in the world and especially in security architecture, and not withdrawing from the international agreements or international security agreements.”
“Because, if that will happen, America will not be great at all and will lose its position, what it has to date,” she added.
The president said she wouldn’t offer a public guess on what Russian President Vladimir Putin wants with her country. “We are ready for anything. We know how unpredictable our neighborhood is, how dangerous it is, but we’re used to living in this environment.”
Grybauskaitė stressed that, for Lithuanians, the United States “has always been the guarantor of democracy, of peace and freedom — and for all of the world, I think, not only for us.”
“And without such kind of hope, the world really will lose the most important thing for development, for security, the hope to be free, the hope to be independent. And the guarantor, the largest one, was the United States,” she said. “And after the elections, immediately, I said it’s no matter what kind of administration the United States will have. What is important for us, that we trust America, the American people. That’s our stance and how we saw it in our history and we will see the United States.”