This year, the United States and Lithuania celebrate a century of diplomatic relations. “We’re NATO Allies. We’re economic partners. And we share together a deep commitment to democracy, to human rights, [and] to the international rules-based order,” declared Secretary of State Antony Blinken on his recent visit to the Baltic nation.
Lithuanians understand the importance of freedom, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, having lived through decades of Soviet occupation. In the face of the current crisis, the United States and Lithuania are united in their resolve to stand with Ukraine. “We’re surging security assistance to strengthen Ukraine’s capacity to defend itself. We’re increasing humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian people. . . . And we’re bolstering our shared defense so that we and our allies are prepared to meet any threat,” declared Secretary Blinken.
The United States’ commitment to Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty, which states that an attack on one NATO ally is an attack on all allies, remains sacrosanct. “No one should doubt our readiness,” said Secretary Blinken, “no one should doubt our resolve.”
The United States has authorized allies to provide U.S.-origin defense equipment to Ukraine. Lithuania stepped up with Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, M-72 light anti-tank weapons, and other supplies to help the Ukrainian people. Vilnius is also sending about 4 million euros in emergency medical assistance for Ukraine.
Fleeing Ukrainians who may arrive in Lithuania will join hundreds of anti-corruption activists, opposition candidates, journalists, and human rights defenders who already have found a safe haven after being forced to flee from harassment, threats of violence, and harsh prison sentences in Russia and Belarus in recent years.
Vilnius also provided refuge for Belarusian blogger and dissident Roman Protasevich until last May, when a commercial plane that Protasevich and his companion were on was forced to land in Minsk, where they were arbitrarily detained. The U.S. calls for his immediate release and the release of all people being unjustly detained in Russia and in Belarus.
The Lithuanian government recognizes that a threat to the rules-based international order anywhere has the potential to weaken it everywhere. That is why the United States respects and supports Lithuania’s decision to expand cultural and commercial ties with democratic Taiwan.
The United States stands by Lithuania and the right of every nation to choose its own path. As Lithuania continues to stand for these principles, it can count on the United States to stand with Lithuania.