Speaker of the Seimas: ‘We will together celebrate the victory of a just peace’
Press release, 24 February 2023
Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Speaker of the Seimas, says that this year not only marks the anniversary of the unprovoked and criminal war launched by Putin’s Russia against Ukraine, but also offers a good basis for drawing certain conclusions.
‘Tension was in the air, but up until the very last moment we had hoped that, if not common sense, then at least a sense of self-preservation would prevail. Unfortunately, imperial ambition, ill-conceived suspicion and a distorted sense of grandeur eventually proved to be stronger. It was war that had won,’ this is how Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen remembers the events last February.
She said that at that time there were those who claimed that the war would not last long, just a few days, that Russia would quite easily take Kharkiv, Odessa, Dnipro, and even Kyiv, and occupy the territory up to the Dnieper, if not the whole Ukraine.
‘Just a few days into the war it became clear, and after a week, it became absolutely obvious, that the Russian military machine had substantially overestimated its own capabilities and failed in its assessment of Ukraine. The talk of a short military operation was a miscalculation. The Russians had counted tanks, missiles and planes, but they had failed to weigh up the human determination to fight and win. They had underestimated the desire of Ukrainians to live in a proper European state, free of the Soviet legacy, of Russian-style oligarchs, of the arbitrariness of the bureaucracy, and of corruption. Europe has much to offer Ukraine, just as Ukraine has much to offer Europe. Meanwhile, Putin’s Russia has nothing to give but to take away,’ says Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen.
With the West stepping in, humanitarian aid starting to flow, economic sanctions increasing, and diplomatic, political and civil support growing, it has become clear that Ukraine was fighting back and taking the lead.
The Speaker of the Seimas is convinced, ‘That is not enough. Weapons, especially heavy ones, are a prerequisite for a breakthrough in war. Although some decisions in principle have already been taken and others are still in the making, weapons will not come instantaneously. Even after final agreement on volumes, weapons will take time to arrive.’
The Speaker of the Seimas believes that, although paradoxical at first glance, by pursuing its goals of aggression, Russia is getting the exact opposite of what it had expected. Ukrainian society is now more focused, anti-Russian and pro-Western than before. At the beginning of the war, when Russia talked about the ‘demilitarisation of Ukraine’, it created the conditions that allowed the Ukrainians to equip themselves with the latest Western weapons. Ironically, it is Russia that is now demilitarising itself, having already lost much of its military equipment on the battlefield and having run out of ammunition.
‘So the third conclusion is as follows: Putin’s Russia has already lost Ukraine and is now at great risk of losing Russia itself. Ukraine has already won. But this is by far not the end. There has to be a victory for justice between war and peace. Aggression must be assessed, the masterminds and perpetrators of crimes must be punished, and reparations must be made. Only then will peace prevail. A just peace. In this war, we will all together celebrate the victory of a just peace. Glory to Ukraine! Slava Ukraini!’ says Ms Čmilytė-Nielsen.
On the anniversary of the war, the Speakers of the Parliaments of the Republic of Lithuania, the Republic of Estonia, the Republic of Latvia and the Republic of Poland issued a joint declaration.