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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Lithuania’s strategic blunder in honing Alexander Lukashenko’s dictatorship

By Peter M. Tase

The U. S. State Department has failed to pressure Lithuania to stop aiding and supporting Lukashenka’s dictatorial regime in its international exports’ ventures.

On December 2nd, 2021, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), designated 20 individuals and 12 entities and identified three aircraft as blocked property pursuant to Executive Orders (E.O.) 14038 and 13405. These actions were taken in “response to the Lukashenka regime’s blatant disregard for international norms and the wellbeing of its own citizens.” Lukashenka’s persons designated by Washington have facilitated the regime’s migrant smuggling into the European Union (EU), have taken part in the ongoing crackdown on human rights and democracy, and have financially bolstered the regime.

Despite these actions taken by the US Treasury, Biden administration blatantly failed to rally its European Allies to reinforce US sanctions in their respective territories; Belarus’ neighboring governments in the Baltics, especially Lithuania, is applying an ambiguous role and pursuing underhand tactics every time when Washington’s sanctions affect Vilnius’ short sighted economic interests. As we experience Russia’s ruthless military invasion of Ukraine; Washington continues to maintain an ambivalent position towards Vilnius. On February 18th, 2022, U. S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited Lithuania and met with Gitanas Nausėda, President of Lithuania, during this historic occasion, the US Delegation failed to emphasize Lithuania’s importance in enforcing economic and financial sanctions against the Belarusian dictatorial regime.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Šimonytė has adopted a strong public rhetoric and empty promises on this matter, her actions remain to be seen. The Biden – Harris Administration has failed to pressure the Government of Lithuania to further reinforce Washington’s sanctions that would benefit Poland and the entire EU community.
Biden’s administration has not followed up, nor pressured the Lithuanian authorities to act quickly against Minsk; although many Iskander missiles are launched from inside the Belarusian territory and killing hundreds of Ukrainian innocent civilians. Belarus is among the world’s very few nations, that are openly supporting the Russian Military aggression against Ukraine.

Sanctions imposed by the Biden – Harris administration must be a top priority and the geographic proximity of Lithuania in serving as the beach head of Belarus.
The essence of upholding democratic values and human rights in Belarus, are the successful implementation of U. S. economic sanctions against Lukashenka’s cronies, in the Baltics and beyond. It takes special skills and a creative leadership to officially pressure Lithuania in taking concrete actions in favor of these sanctions.

The U. S. containment policy has proved to be futile and a greater presence of US diplomats in the Baltics and Central Europe is tantamount to securing collection of highly valuable human intelligence in defense of US National Interests across the Atlantic. A special focus must be directed towards Lithuania, as Washington aims to further obstruct, limit the international financial activities of Minsk. As a country with geographic proximity to Belarus, Lithuania is serving as a haven territory for Lukashenka’s autocratic regime to conduct all its business affairs and illicit financial activities.

Washington’s disregard of Lithuania’s geographic proximity and its leaders’ active role towards indulging Belarusian oligarchy in Vilnius, has shown serious consequences, ineffective results, in the process of implementation of its recent financial sanctions imposed against Lukashenka.

 

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