Speech by Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Landsbergis at the United Nations Security Council on behalf of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania

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February 24, 2024

Mr. President,

I speak on behalf of Estonia, Latvia, and my own country Lithuania.

Today and tomorrow, many will yet again call on Russia to end its brutal war against Ukraine. Many will say that Russia’s unprovoked aggression goes against everything these United Nations stand for. Some will question the credibility of this Council to defend the rules-based international order.

But however loud and eloquent we are, our protests and outrage will barely register in Moscow and rockets will continue to rain down on Ukrainian homes, hospitals, and schools.

Today we are facing choices that might well define this century, just as the choices in the 1930s defined the previous century. Do we continue to appease the aggressor who is patient and meticulous in his attempts to turn everything this organisation holds dear into a mockery? Do we once again allow him to escape responsibility for his aggression? Do we continue to feed him with lives and land, misled by our fear of escalation and naïve hopes that this time he will be fully satisfied?

Today we come to this Council to address the entire international community with a very simple message:

For all our sakes, wake up.

If we fail, the rules-based order will crumble. Ukraine’s sovereignty, Europe’s security, as well as the success of the global efforts for human rights and accountability, for food security and nuclear safety – will all be in the hands of those who benefit from disruption and chaos.

History reminds us of the terrible cost of the wrong choices. Hedging our bets earns us nothing but more war.

Russia is being emboldened by our cautious response. Revisionist powers across the world are already exploiting our indecisiveness. If not contained, this Kremlin-driven arc of instability will continue to expand, igniting more conflicts that we are not prepared to counter.

Ukraine may seem far away, and the world’s attention is divided, but it is imperative to realise that Russia’s aggression against Ukraine ultimately impacts us all.

This war must be won, and won decisively. It is not just Europe’s war, it is a challenge to the international order, which – while imperfect – aims to ensure that law, rather than military might, determines our borders and sovereignty.

The choices we make at this crossroads will define how we are remembered. We have the capacity to win, as Ukraine continues to make enormous sacrifices to stand against the ruthless aggressor. History reminds us of the cost of our past mistakes.

Mr. President, I would like to remind all those here today that our three countries, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have been occupied, colonised, and exploited by this same aggressor more than once.

More. than. once.

And that is why we know from bitter experience that whatever words are spoken, whatever agreements are signed, this aggressor has no plans to stop… until he is stopped.

Thank you.

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