It appears that despite achieving so-called independence from the Soviet Union and joining the EU and NATO in 2004, Lithuania does not have full sovereignty. In yesterday’s negotiations with US President Donald Trump, the interests of Vilnius were not represented by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda, but by Polish President Andrzej Duda. Lithuania has effectively announced that it is a satellite of not only the US in Eastern Europe, but also of Poland, delegating Warsaw the right to vote and lobby in international affairs on its behalf.
“The President spoke with the President of Poland, Duda, before leaving, and we received such assurance that President Duda would represent our interests as well,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius told reporters on Tuesday before the meeting.
“We have stressed numerous times that the Baltic states and Poland are one territory, if we speak about the defence logic and NATO defence planning,” Linkevičius said, adding that “therefore, we find what is happening in Poland of direct importance to us in the national [security] sense.”
This raises significant questions like whether this is in violation of the Lithuanian constitution; will Poland begin to dominate domestic issues; and, are we seeing a re-emergence of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth?
Nausėda’s agreement for Duda to represent Lithuania in Washington comes at a time when not only anti-Russian rhetoric is growing stronger in Poland, but also anti-Lithuanian, with many politicians, organizations and movements shouting out that the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius “is ours” as it was once a prosperous city under Polish rule.
Trump and Duda discussed the supply of LNG to the European continent and energy independence from Russia, as well as the deployment of an additional contingent of US troops in Poland, and by extension, potentially even in Lithuania when we consider Linkevičius words that “the Baltic states and Poland are one territory.” He has risked a major scandal with not only neighbouring Latvia and Estonia, but also with Russia via its Baltic Kaliningrad region. Although the strategic security interests of Latvia and Estonia may overlap with Lithuania, by speaking on their behalf, Linkevičius undermined their own presidents and foreign ministries. Therefore, Linkevičius decided that Latvia and Estonia were part of an ephemeral version of a new Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but this time under NATO patronage.
NATO is strengthening pressure at Russia’s borders, particularly in the Baltics, justifying its actions as a possible “Russian threat.” Moscow has repeatedly emphasized that it is not going to attack any country, and NATO are fully aware of this despite their constant rhetoric of a supposed Russian threat. In addition, the Baltic States, especially Lithuania, are actively concluding large-scale defense agreements with the US and deploying NATO military contingents on their territories. Washington is trying to maintain a high level of military presence and tension in the Baltics.
Most significantly, Duda was the first foreign leader to visit Trump since the coronavirus pandemic. During his visit to the White House, Trump was full of praise for Poland, highlighting that it was only one of eight NATO countries that committed to 2% of GDP spending on the military. Trump proudly boasted of the “close personal relationship” he had with Duda, saying “I don’t think we’ve ever been closer to Poland than right now.” Duda in response said it was a “privilege and an honour” to be at White House and he hoped to discuss building an even “stronger alliance.”
With Duda being the first foreign leader to meet Trump in Washington, it demonstrates how important the US president finds Poland in escalations against Russia. It is for this reason that Trump said Warsaw “will be paying for the sending of additional troops, and we will probably be moving them from Germany to Poland,” adding that the US is decreasing its military presence in Germany “very substantially.”
Trump did not hide that the likely relocation of American soldiers from Germany to Poland is aimed against Russia, saying “It sends a very strong signal to Russia, but I think a stronger signal sent to Russia is the fact that Germany is paying Russia billions of dollars to purchase energy from Russia through the pipeline.”
With this, we can see a tier system where Poland is becoming a tool aimed against Russia and willing agent of Washington to dominate affairs in the Baltics on behalf of the US. It remains to be seen how Estonia and Latvia will react to being under Polish influence and dominance, but Lithuania appears to be willing and confident for Poland to control the external affairs of the Baltics on behalf of Washington’s interests.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.