Straight Outta Vilnius

Vytautas Landsbergis, “the patriarch of Lithuanian politics,” sat down for an interview on Russia, NATO, and recent attempts by Russian planes to ensnare Turkey in the Syrian Civil War:

Why does Russia want one more party in the Syrian conflict?

Today’s Russia and its leadership need as much tension as possible everywhere. They exploit it to win influence. They use threats, because it’s very effective. Read: you must talk with us because we are unpredictable. And “with us” means “by our rules”. That’s the goal of the Kremlin’s masters.

The Turkish president has said his country will not remain an idle observer, that Russia’s actions against Turkey are actions against NATO. What kind of response should we expect from Turkey? What do you think Turkey should do?

The most straightforward response from Turkey would be this: Make sure there’s no bad weather, because next time your plane might not return. Or if you get lost, make sure you’re ten kilometres away from the Turkish border, because if you do, the plane might not return. This would be serious talk, whereas now there are just laments and promises to talk. Putin laughs at this. He uses a simple formula: they talk, I act.

Then there’s this:

What do you think about US President Barack Obama’s policy and position in the situation? What is it down to?

I think it is down to his weak character and the weakness of his team. Barack Obama sometimes makes very strict statements, but there are no strict actions. He has vetoed initiatives to rearm Ukraine, since he knows that Moscow will be very upset by it. There are probably people counting days until the US presidential election, thinking what more Moscow could win until then.

My only quibble is with the word “probably.”