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2 Jan, 2024 20:39

NATO member ‘hoped for different result’ in Ukraine – PM

Kiev was supposed to 'defend Europe and Western values' but 'this did not happen', Lithuanian PM Simonyte has admitted
NATO member ‘hoped for different result’ in Ukraine – PM

Lithuania may have been too optimistic about Ukraine’s chances in the conflict with Russia, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte has told the state broadcaster LRT in an interview published on Tuesday.

Speaking with LRT for the year-end special, recorded on Friday, Simonyte touched on Lithuania’s security situation and how it has been impacted by the Ukraine conflict. 

“It will probably not be too farfetched to say that we expected a very different result from the war this year than what we have today,” she told the broadcaster. “Unfortunately, that means that we have to start counting on the fact that the scenario will not be what we wanted at the beginning of [2023], before the Ukrainian offensive began.”

According to Simonyte, Lithuania “may have taken the situation a bit too lightly,” expecting Ukraine to “really defend both Europe and Western values” with all the weapons and support it has received. 

“This did not happen,” she added.

Everyone who was convinced that the Ukrainian military would easily triumph over the Russian army were “hasty in their assessments,” Simonyte told LRT, adding that 2024 is likely to be “difficult” from both a military and political standpoint.

Kiev has received over $44 billion worth of weapons, equipment, and ammunition from the US and another €27 billion ($29.88 billion) from the EU, since hostilities with Russia escalated in February 2022.

The US and its allies supplied Ukraine with over 1,500 armored vehicles – including main battle tanks – for the grand spring counteroffensive, planned with the help of US and UK generals. When it eventually began in June, “nothing went as planned,” according to a Washington Post analysis published in early December.

Kiev’s forces failed to achieve any of their objectives and have since lost several strongholds to Russian counterattacks. According to Russian Defense Ministry estimates, the offensive cost Kiev over 125,000 troops and more than 16,000 pieces of equipment.

Simonyte sought to reassure Lithuanians by pointing out that NATO made “real defense plans” at the July summit in Vilnius. She also noted that Germany made a commitment to deploy a heavy brigade in Lithuania within the next couple of years, though details such as who would pay for it and where they would be based remain to be resolved.