In her annual statement at the UN General Assembly in New York, President Dalia Grybauskaitė drew world's attention towards threats posed by the Russian military exercise West-2017.
Russian-Belarusian drills West-2017 on September 14 – 20 are the exercise of the invasion scenario against its neighbors. Dalia Grybauskaite, the President of Lithuania said that during her speech on the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly on September 19.
“Today the word “peace” is very complicated. The authoritarian regime continues to kill. The current attention is focused on North Korea and some other regions. However, the same methods of intimidation, humiliation, and aggression are used both in Russia and Ukraine and along NATO’s eastern border with Russia. This moment, when our meeting takes place, over 100 thousand Russian troops take part in Zapad-2017 (West-2017, - ed.) military exercises. The Kremlin trains attack their neighbors. They are preparing their soldiers for the attack against the West,” she noted.
“Even as we speak, around one hundred thousand Russian troops are engaged in offensive military exercise “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,” said Dalia Grybauskaitė.
The President underscored that despite Russia’s special responsibility to protect international peace as 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 Kremlin’s arsenal does not stop at conventional weapons. Russia continues to meddle in elections of other states, conducts cyber-attacks and uses its "sputniks" to spread fake news and aggressive, destabilizing propaganda. Energy blackmail has long become Russia’s weapon of choice. In Belarus, just forty kilometers 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.
According to the President, abuses of basic international norms by regimes across the world are not isolated or unrelated cases. Too often, they are a result of our collective failure to condemn and properly react to violations.
Dalia Grybauskaitė stated that international community lacked determination and courage to enforce the rules that it had created. “We draw red lines ourselves and then pretend they don't exist,” said the President.
This has to change. Bullies are aggressive precisely because they feel weak, insecure and because they do not receive an appropriate response. That is why we must stop being passive observers and start calling things by their own names.
“Aggression can never make anyone stronger. It can never earn anyone even a drop of respect. The only thing the aggression will bring is contempt, shame, and condemnation. 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. Abuse of human rights, nationalistic rhetoric and suppression of free speech explode into violence if ignored, “said the President.
According to Dalia Grybauskaitė, we must change the United Nations. This unique universal body was established to save the world from wars. So far, it has failed to fulfill this promise. Now we face the choice: either we give this organization the voice to rise against the abuse or we will make it irrelevant.
As we reported earlier, a general political discussion in the framework of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly opened in New York on Tuesday. More than 120 heads of state and government, as well as foreign ministers and heads of delegations, are giving their speeches during it.
Before the beginning of the general debate, the UN Secretary General presented his annual report to the UN member states on the work of the United Nations.