Russia has been violating the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF) for several years, the Foreign Minister of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius said in an interview with DW on Wednesday, November 14. Although US President Donald Trump announced that he was planning to quit the treaty, it is just an intention and not yet a decision. According to the Lithuanian politician, it is Donald Trump's tactic to exert pressure on Russia.
Linas Linkevičius said that arms control agreements are very important, but it is equally important that all parties comply with them. If not so, something should be done to force them to. So far, all the calls and the criticism have had no effect. Nevertheless, the politician believes the situation is not dramatic since there are still contacts between the US and Russia. US National Security Advisor to the President John Bolton recently visited Moscow. In addition, Putin and Trump’s summit will soon take place. These are good signs.
The Baltic countries are worried about the Iskander missile systems deployed by Russia in the Kaliningrad Oblast, the Lithuanian Foreign Minister said. Russians are speaking about balance and adequate answers, but this step is by no means adequate. "We do not have defense capabilities" and "we are not going to be aggressive", the politician said.
In addition, as noted by Linkevičius, these missiles can be equipped with nuclear warheads and can reach not only Vilnius, Riga or Tallinn, but also Berlin. The politician believes that it is an escalation measure, and it's not a claim, it's a fact. If Russia expects honest dialogue, they must demonstrate willingness to cooperate, the minister said.
Linas Linkavičius has been the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania since 2012. Before that, he served two terms as defense minister: from 1993 to 1996 and from 2000 to 2004.