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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, January 10, 2024

Jan 17 2024

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Ukrainian President Zelensky arrives in Lithuania
  2. Ukraine proves Russia can be stopped, now it has to wrest peace – Zelensky in Vilnius
  3. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Wednesday, January 10, 2024
  4. Lithuania records no illegal border crossings from Belarus for 9th straight day
  5. Missing 9-year-old girl found in Kaunas, suspected abductor detained
  6. Lithuanian military plane transports donor organ from Warsaw to Vilnius
  7. SocDems, conservatives continue to top Lithuania's party rankings – Delfi/Spinter poll
  8. Lithuanian parlt speaker sees Russian schools as opportunity, not threat
  9. Lithuanian parlt speaker hopes people, businesses won't buy Viciunai products 
  10. Ukrainian President Zelensky arrives in Lithuania (updates)
  11. Zelensky says he's in Lithuania to thank it for support, discuss further ties
  12. Lithuanian parlt speaker skeptical about calls to change ambassador procedure
  13. Zelensky thanks Lithuania for its military assistance during Vilnius visit
  14. Zelensky thanks Lithuania for its military assistance during Vilnius visit (expands)
  15. Lithuanian formin says not his decision not to attend meeting with Zelensky
  16. Lithuanian formin says law changes may be needed to solve row over ambassadors 
  17. Lithuanian govt approves EU presidency preparation plan
  18. Court rejects on Belarusian activist Karach's appeal over denied asylum in Lithuania
  19. Lithuania to send M577 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine in February – Nauseda 
  20. Lithuania to send M577 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine in February – Nauseda (expands)
  21. Lithuanian formin urges EU ambassadors to continue supporting Ukraine
  22. Ukraine proves Russia can be stopped, now it has to wrest peace – Zelensky in Vilnius (expands)
  23. Lithuania's parl committee to propose to SDC to decide on military drone capability
  24. Ukraine proves Russia can be stopped, now it has to wrest peace – Zelensky in Vilnius (further expands)
  25. Lithuania to send M577 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine in February – Nauseda (expands)
  26. Lithuania's ties with Ukraine grow increasingly sincere, close – Nauseda 
  27. There'll be no day after Ukraine, there'll be a day after war and after Putin – Zelensky
  28. 'Symbol' Zelensky inspires people with his speech in Vilnius
  29. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, January 11, 2024
  30. Unanimous support for Ukraine is Lithuanian parlt's calling card

Ukrainian President Zelensky arrives in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Lithuania on Wednesday.

His plane landed at Vilnius Airport at around 10.30 a.m. and he was met by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.

According to the Lithuanian presidential office, the Lithuanian and Ukrainian presidents will discuss the course of the war in Ukraine, support for Ukraine, and the country’s integration into the EU and NATO.

The two leaders will address the people of Lithuania at Daukanto Square, and will also visit the Ukrainian center established on the initiative of the First Ladies of Lithuania and Ukraine, where they will meet with Ukrainian war refugees living in Lithuania.

This is Zelensky's fourth visit to Lithuania. The last time he was in Vilnius was in July 2023 when he attended the NATO summit.

Ukraine calls Vilnius one of its biggest supporters in its fight against the Russian invasion that has been taking place for almost two years.

Lithuania actively supports Ukraine's EU and NATO membership. In terms of economic size, Lithuania is one of the largest contributors of military aid to Ukraine.

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Ukraine proves Russia can be stopped, now it has to wrest peace – Zelensky in Vilnius

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Ukraine has proved that Russia can be stopped and now it needs to wrest peace from it, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in Vilnius on Wednesday.

"We have proved that Russia can be stopped, that deterrence is possible. Now we have to wrest peace from Russia's hands, the kind of peace we want – a just one - and get security for our nations. The security we need," he said.

 Zelensky said that this year will be decisive in many respects.

The Ukrainian leader noted that he came to Lithuania for his first visit abroad this year.

"This is not just a visit of gratitude; it is a visit of shared trust between the nations that live in the neighborhood of Russia," he said.

Zelensky said that neither Ukraine nor Lithuania will allow Russia to destroy their statehood.

For his part, President Gitanas Nauseda said that Lithuania has supported and will continue to support Ukraine through all means – military, political and economic.

The two presidents signed a memorandum of cooperation in Vilnius on Wednesday.

 

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Wednesday, January 10, 2024

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Wednesday, January 10, 2024.

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to give an interview to the Ziniu Radijas radio station at 8 a.m.; to meet with Armenia's ambassador Ara Margarian at noon. 

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to chair the Cabinet's meeting at 1 p.m. 

SOCIAL PROTECTION AND LABOR MINISTER Monika Navickiene to attend an informal meeting of the EU's Employment and Social Affairs Council (EPSCO) in Belgium.

FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis to meet with EU member countries' ambassadors to Lithuania.

COURTS 

The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania to issue, at 1 p.m., its ruling on Belarusian activist Olga Karach's asylum appeal.

 

 

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Lithuania records no illegal border crossings from Belarus for 9th straight day

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have recorded no attempts to cross into the country from Belarus illegally for more than a week now, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Wednesday morning.

No attempts at illegal border crossings were recorded at the Lithuanian and Latvian borders on Tuesday and at the Polish border on Monday.

"Tuesday was the ninth consecutive day when no irregular migrants attempted to enter Lithuania from Belarus at non-designated locations. That is, there have been no such cases this year," the SBGS said.

The same situation was recorded last year from October 31 to November 7. Since the summer of 2021, when the influx of migrants started, there has been only one even longer period of relative calm when no foreigners attempted to cross the Lithuanian border illegally. This happened between February 18 and March 1 last year, i.e. for 12 consecutive days.

Lithuanian border officials now attribute this to the spell of cold weather and the consequences of the government's pushback policy.

More than 2,500 irregular migrants have been barred from entering Lithuania from Belarus at non-designated places so far this year.

Lithuanian border guards have prevented a total of almost 22,000 people from crossing in from Belarus since August 3, 2021, when they were given the right to turn away irregular migrants. The number includes repeated attempts by the same people to cross the border.

The influx of irregular migrants to the EU's eastern member states from Belarus began in 2021 and is blamed by the West on the Minsk regime.

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally in 2021. However, the vast majority of them fled Lithuania once they were allowed to move freely.

 

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Missing 9-year-old girl found in Kaunas, suspected abductor detained

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – A nine-year-old girl who went missing on her way to a bus stop in Lithuania's second-biggest city of Kaunas on Sunday was found "safe and alive" last night, the police said. 

"Agota is safe, alive, and will return home," Kaunas police spokesman Odeta Vaitkeviciene told BNS.

Police Commissioner General Renatas Pozela told a press conference in the early hours of Wednesday that a man had been detained on suspicion of abducting Agota and that the nine-year-old girl had been taken to hospital.

"The detention occurred in a garage complex near the place of abduction," he said. 

Pozela said that the girl "is well and talking", but that she had sustained some injuries and was being examined by doctors.

"Medical personnel are attending to her, and she is in the care of her parents," he said, 

According to Kaunas police chief Mindaugas Barsys, the 42-year-old suspect "has no convictions, (but) has been punished more than once". 

Pozela added that "the crime was committed in a rather qualified manner".

"Some things surprised us, let's put it that way," the commissioner general said.

Barsys said that the garage "looked not exactly as we imagine a place for storing a car". 

The officials did not comment on the motives behind the crime.

The girl, born in 2014, disappeared after she left her home in Kaunas at around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday. She headed to a public transport stop to take bus to a shop. However, she did not make it to the shop.

The search operation involved hundreds of police officers and volunteers from all over Lithuania.

 

By Augustas Stankevičius

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Lithuanian military plane transports donor organ from Warsaw to Vilnius

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – The Lithuanian Air Force's Spartan transport aircraft brought a donor organ from Warsaw to Vilnius on Tuesday, the military said on Wednesday. 

The military plane was deployed at the request of the National Transplant Bureau. 

"The Air Force's C-27J Spartan transport aircraft took off from Zokniai Airport in Siauliai at around 4 p.m. and departed for Warsaw Airport in Poland with a medical team aboard," the Armed Forces said in a press release. 

The medical team landed in Vilnius at 10:25 p.m. with the donor organ, after which the aircraft returned to Siauliai.

This marks the military plane's second flight to neighboring Poland after a cooperation agreement was signed in late September 2023, expanding the list of European countries such aircraft fly to for the transportation of donor organs.

 

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SocDems, conservatives continue to top Lithuania's party rankings – Delfi/Spinter poll

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – The opposition Lithuanian Social Democratic Party (LSDP) continues to top Lithuania's political party rankings, followed in second place by the ruling conservative Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats (HU-LCD), according to the latest Spinter Tyrimai opinion poll published by Delfi on Wednesday. 

Some 16.3 percent of respondents said in December that they would vote for the LSDP and 10.8 percent supported the HU-LCD, compared to 13.8 percent and 9.7 percent, respectively, in the previous poll in November.

The opposition Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union ranked third with 9.4 percent (8 percent in November), followed in fourth position by the Liberal Movement, a member of the ruling coalition, with 6.2 percent (6.6 percent). 

Further down the list was the opposition Democratic Union "For Lithuania" with 6.1 percent (4 percent) and the ruling Freedom Party with 5.3 percent (3.3 percent).  

Other parties would not cross the five-percent election threshold to get to the parliament.

The percentage of respondents who said they would not go to the polls declined to 10.8 percent in December, from 15.9 percent in November.

When asked who they saw as best-suited to be prime minister, 10.9 percent of respondents chose Ingrida Simonyte, the incumbent head of government, up from 7.2 percent in the previous poll.

MEP Vilija Blinkeviciute, the LSDP leader, came in second with 8.5 percent, almost unchanged from 8.4 percent in November.

When asked about the current government's performance, 63.5 percent of respondents said their opinion was rather negative or negative, down from 67.8 percent in the previous poll. 

In the representative survey commissioned by Delfi, Spinter Tyrimai polled 1,012 people between December 15 and 23. The results of the poll have an error margin of 3.1 percent.

 

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Lithuanian parlt speaker sees Russian schools as opportunity, not threat

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen says she sees Russian-language schools in Lithuania as an opportunity and help for national minority families, not as a threat.

Her comment came as the debate on the closure of Russian schools in Lithuania has recently reignited.

"In my opinion, at this stage, it would be important for the Education Ministry to pay perhaps more attention to the fact that national minority schools can be a bridge between people, children who come from very different backgrounds with different attitudes towards society. This can be a help, not just a threat. I see national minority schools as an opportunity, as a great help and not as a threat," she told the Ziniu Radijas news radio on Wednesday.

In her words, when discussing this issue, one should, first of all, identify the problem that they are trying to solve.

"Schools with minority languages as languages of instruction seem to me to be Lithuania's strength. The fact that they have been preserved in Lithuania and are getting attention is important. It is a longer road to integration, but it is the right and sustainable one," Cmilyte-Nielsen said.

Lithuanian Education, Science and Sport Minister Gintautas Jakstas last week reignited debate on whether Russian-language schools should be closed in Lithuania by following in the footsteps of the Estonians and Latvians. However, he later said he did not link this debate to the aforementioned incident.

The Education Ministry plans to draw up a proposal on gradually phasing out education in the Russian language over the next several weeks. Meanwhile, national minority schools where the education process is done using the languages of EU countries or countries friendly to Lithuania could continue, Jakstas says.

Under the existing law, local authorities in areas with traditionally large national minorities guarantee education in the language of the national minority at the request of the local community.

National minority schools mostly operate in southeastern Lithuania where children receive education in national minority languages in nearly 100 schools in nine municipalities.

According to the National Agency for Education, over 47,000 children attended educational establishments for national minorities, from kindergartens to schools, in the academic year of 2020-2021.

Around 14,000 pupils are now attending general education schools with Russian as the language of instruction, mostly in Vilnius, Visaginas and Klaipeda.

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Lithuanian parlt speaker hopes people, businesses won't buy Viciunai products 

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, speaker of the Lithuanian parliament, said on Wednesday that she expects people and businesses to opt against purchasing products from Viciunai Group, Lithuania's seafood group labeled by Ukraine as an " international war sponsor" for continuing its operations in Russia.

"It does not reflect well on Viciunai Group and creates a conflicting image regarding Lithuania's stance," Cmilyte-Nielsen told the Ziniu Radijas radio station. "While we are known in the world as a leading supporter of Ukraine, (...) this creates quite the opposite impression." 

"Businesses, every person who goes shopping, those who sell products, they can also make decisions, and I think this will prompt people not to choose those products and to look at them in a different light," the speaker said. 

"At least I hope that we will use the tools that we each have in our arsenal and make the right choices and not support those blacklisted in Ukraine", she added.

Ukraine's National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP) announced last week that it had added Viciunai Group to the list of international war sponsors because of its continued operations in the Russian market.

This means that the group is also listed in the global World Check database of heightened risk individuals and organizations, which helps identify and manage financial, regulatory and reputational risks.

Viciunai Group's owners say they have been unsuccessfully trying to sell their business in Russia's exclave of Kaliningrad since the spring of 2022, when Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. 

 

By Erika Alonderytė-Kazlauskė

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Ukrainian President Zelensky arrives in Lithuania (updates)

Updated version: updates throughout

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS - Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky arrived in Lithuania on Wednesday, starting his visit to the Baltic states.

His plane landed at Vilnius Airport at around 10.30 a.m. and he was met by Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis.

According to the Lithuanian presidential office, the Lithuanian and Ukrainian presidents will discuss the course of the war in Ukraine, support for Ukraine, and the country’s integration into the EU and NATO.

The two leaders will address the people of Lithuania at Daukantas Square, and will also visit the Vytautas Magnus University's Center of Ukraine, established on the initiative of the First Ladies of Lithuania and Ukraine, where they will meet with Ukrainian war refugees living in Lithuania.

"The president is an extraordinary leader in the struggle for Ukraine's freedom, territories, the survival of its people, for democracy, for humanistic values and for the freedom of all of us. President Zelensky is setting the best example of dignity, determination and moral strength for the young generation by making great efforts to preserve the future of Ukrainian culture, science and education," VMU Rector Professor Juozas Augutis was quoted in the university's statement.

The Ukrainian president is also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, the leadership of the Seimas and representatives of political groups in the Lithuanian parliament.

Later, Zelensky will travel to Latvia and Estonia. He plans to discuss to discuss international support for Kyiv, further ties and EU and NATO integration with the Baltic leaders.

This is Zelensky's fourth visit to Lithuania. The last time he was in Vilnius was in July 2023 when he attended the NATO summit.

Ukraine calls Vilnius one of its biggest supporters in its fight against the Russian invasion that has been taking place for almost two years.

Lithuania actively supports Ukraine's EU and NATO membership. In terms of economic size, Lithuania is one of the largest contributors of military aid to Ukraine.

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Zelensky says he's in Lithuania to thank it for support, discuss further ties

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday that he is visiting Lithuania and the other two Baltic countries to thank them for their support to Kyiv and to discuss further ties and integration into the European Union and NATO.

"Later, I will be in Tallinn and Riga, and today I am in Vilnius," he posted on Telegram after landing in the Lithuanian capital. 

Zelensky said he will meet with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte and Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen, speaker of the parliament. 

The Ukrainian leader said the meetings will focus on "security, integration into the EU and NATO, cooperation in electronic warfare and drones, and further coordination of European assistance". 

"And, of course, our deep gratitude. For unwavering support to Ukraine throughout the ten years of war, and especially now, after the start of the large-scale invasion," he added.

Zelensky's visit to the Baltic countries comes as the second anniversary of Russia's invasion approaches.

 

By Saulius Jakučionis

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Lithuanian parlt speaker skeptical about calls to change ambassador procedure

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Speaker of the Lithuanian Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen is skeptical about the presidential office's proposals to change the existing procedure for appointing ambassadors.

"We have certainly heard a number of proposals for some kind of legislative regulation, but I am very skeptical about this as the law does not oblige two people, representatives of two institutions to come into the same room, sit down at the table and talk about solving the problems," she told the Ziniu Radijas news radio on Wednesday.

"I believe the interest of the state should really be above personal ambitions and there is simply no other way than for the president and the foreign minister to meet, negotiate and find a solution," Cmilyte-Nielsen added.

Her comment came after Frederikas Jansonas, chief communications advisor to President Gitanas Nauseda, last week proposed changing the existing current procedure for appointing ambassadors to allow for information on all diplomats who participate in the selection process be handed over to the president, not only that on the Foreign Ministry's pick.

Such a proposal was made amid the ongoing disagreements between the presidential office and the Foreign Ministry regarding the appointment of Lithuania's ambassador to Poland.

"When I see this situation, it seems to me that when a conflict has been going on for so long, it has to be assumed that at least one of the parties, and maybe both of them, are benefiting to some extent, otherwise there is no reason why they shouldn't get together and come to an agreement," the speaker said.

Lithuania has no ambassador in Warsaw since September 7 when Eduardas Borisovas' term of office expired. The embassy is currently headed by Minister Plenipotentiary Audrone Markeviciene.

Foreign Ministry Chancellor Inga Cerniuk said earlier the Lithuanian Constitution would have to be amended for the president to get the full list of persons partaking in the process of selecting ambassadors.

The Foreign Ministry introduced selections for heads of diplomatic missions in 2021, saying that this was an attempt to limit as much as possible the so-called political appointments where politicians or other persons from outside the diplomatic service are appointed as ambassadors.

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Zelensky thanks Lithuania for its military assistance during Vilnius visit

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who arrived in Vilnius on Wednesday, thanked Lithuania for its support and military assistance to Ukraine.

"We are very thankful for Lithuanian support, your team and your great society, we are thankful for your very warm attitude to our people, we are thankful for all your support and military assistance," Zelensky said, opening his meeting with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda the Presidential Palace.

The Lithuanian and Ukrainian presidents will discuss the course of the war in Ukraine, support for Ukraine, and the country’s integration into the EU and NATO.

Later on, the two leaders will address the people of Lithuania at Daukanto Square, and will also visit the Vytautas Magnus University's Center of Ukraine, established on the initiative of the First Ladies of Lithuania and Ukraine, where they will meet with Ukrainian war refugees living in Lithuania.

The Ukrainian president is also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, the leadership of the Seimas and representatives of political groups in the Lithuanian parliament.

Later, he will travel to Latvia and Estonia.

By Milena Andrukaitytė

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Zelensky thanks Lithuania for its military assistance during Vilnius visit (expands)

Updated version: updates throughout

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who arrived in Vilnius on Wednesday, thanked Lithuania for its support and military assistance to Ukraine.

"We are very thankful for Lithuanian support, your team and your great society, we are thankful for your very warm attitude to our people, we are thankful for all your support and military assistance," Zelensky said, opening his meeting with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda the Presidential Palace.

The Lithuanian president said he would discuss with his Ukrainian counterpart not only military but also political and economic assistance to Ukraine, adding that he would like to hear firsthand about the latest situation on the front.

"We are also very interested in the news on the war front. We know how exhausting this long-lasting war is, and we are interested in Ukraine achieving a complete victory as soon as possible," Nauseda said.

The Lithuanian and Ukrainian presidents will discuss the course of the war in Ukraine, support for Ukraine, and the country’s integration into the EU and NATO.

The Lithuanian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that military assistance to Ukraine would continue this year as Lithuanian would hand over the remainder of the equipment purchased last year, and also plans to complete the acquisition initiated last year.

"The arms and equipment supplied by Lithuania and allies make a critical contribution to Ukraine's struggle for independence and to the security of Europe as a whole. Lithuania will not tire of supporting Ukraine's struggle for freedom, just as we ourselves have not tired of the 50-year struggle to restore Lithuania's independence," Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said.

Lithuania will give Ukraine the vehicles it bought last year, including trucks, pickup trucks, ambulances, various trailers and forklifts. Also, UAVs, anti-drones, remote detonation systems, ammunition and ammunition magazines, warm clothing kits and a variety of equipment needed during the winter will be sent to Ukraine, according to the ministry.

Based on its Ukraine assistance plan 2024-2026, a total of around 200 million euros will be allocated for new acquisitions for Ukraine during this period.

Most of the latest support is focused on the needs of the Lithuanian-led coalition for demining Ukraine and it will include the purchase of a wide range of demining equipment, forklifts and fuel trucks, ammunition and dry rations. This support will be sent to Ukraine this year and next year.

Later on, the two leaders will address the people of Lithuania at Daukanto Square, and will also visit the Vytautas Magnus University's Center of Ukraine, established on the initiative of the First Ladies of Lithuania and Ukraine, where they will meet with Ukrainian war refugees living in Lithuania.

The Ukrainian president is also scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, the leadership of the Seimas and representatives of political groups in the Lithuanian parliament.

Zelensky is visiting Vilnius as the second anniversary of Russia's invasion nears and as Western support for Ukraine is slowing down amid an increasing number of Russia's attacks across Ukraine.

Later, Zelensky will travel to Latvia and Estonia.

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Lithuanian formin says not his decision not to attend meeting with Zelensky

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Wednesday it was not his decision not to attend a meeting with the delegation led by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and also including Ukraine's top diplomat Dmytro Kuleba at the Presidential Palace.

Landsbergis says he was not invited by the presidential office.

"This is not a demarche on my part, it is not my decision that I am not there," Landsbergis told reporters outside the government office on Wednesday.

"I don't know," he said when asked why he was not invited to the meeting.

The presidential office and the Foreign Ministry have been at loggerheads recently over the appointment of ambassadors. Also, President Gitanas Nauseda and the ruling conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats are at odds on a number of issues.

Although Landsbergis welcomed the Ukrainian president when he landed n Vilnius earlier in the day, he said it was only a polite "greeting".

The foreign minister also refused to comment on whether the presidential office was breaching diplomatic practice by not inviting him to the meeting.

By Greta Zulonaitė

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Lithuanian formin says law changes may be needed to solve row over ambassadors 

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis believes that the law may need to be amended to solve the row with President Gitanas Nauseda's office over the appointment of ambassadors.

"I hear my colleagues saying that maybe amendments to the law are needed. I believe that might be the path we need to take," Landsbergis told the Delfi online news site in an interview aired on Wednesday.

"We are in a world of traditionally established norms, especially when it comes to foreign policy (...). If there is trust, then there is willingness, but if there is no trust and willingness any more, then regulation is the way to go," he added.

Landsbergis' comment comes as Nauseda's office and the Foreign Ministry remain at loggerheads over the appointment of the Lithuanian ambassador to Poland.

The post has been vacant since early September 2023, when Eduardas Borisovas' term of office expired. The embassy in Warsaw is currently headed by Minister Plenipotentiary Audrone Markeviciene.

Frederikas Jansonas, Nauseda's chief communications advisor, last week proposed changing the current procedure for appointing ambassadors so that all diplomats who participate in the selection process be presented to the president, not just the ministry's pick for the post. 

Foreign Ministry Chancellor Inga Cerniuk says that the Constitution would have to be amended for the president to receive the full list of those taking part in the selection process.

Landsbergis did not say how he would propose to change the procedure for appointing ambassadors.

"It should simply be proportional and the distribution of powers here should also be adequate," he said when asked whether he would seek to reduce the president's powers through the law.

While most controversy has lately centered on the post in Warsaw, Landsbergis also noted that the situation regarding Eitvydas Bajarunas, Lithuania's ambassador to the United Kingdom, remains unresolved.  

Following complaints from embassy staff regarding Bajarunas' alleged misconduct and working conditions, the foreign minister suspended the ambassador and summoned him to Vilnius for consultations in mid-October.

Nauseda has called the decision "half-hearted", saying that that it does not solve anything and that it leaves the embassy without a head for at least six months.

 

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Lithuanian govt approves EU presidency preparation plan

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS - The Lithuanian government on Wednesday approved a plan to prepare for the EU presidency, with the preparations and the presidency itself expected to cost around 100 million euros.

Lithuania will hold the rotating EU presidency in the first half of 2027, from January 1 to June 30, and will prepare a joint presidency program with Ireland and Greece. The former will precede and the latter will follow Lithuania.

According to the approved plan, preparations for the presidency will include training for staff, a calendar of presidency events and ensuring direct daily flights to Brussels from January 2027. The goal is to have at least two direct flights a day to Brussels and, if necessary, direct flights to other cities important for Lithuania's EU presidency. 

Also, Lithuania plans to temporarily increase the number of staff at the Permanent Representation of Lithuania to the EU from the existing number of 100 to 200 over the next year.

This will be the second time that Lithuania will hold the EU presidency after it took the helm of the block for the first time in 2013. Belgium currently holds the EU presidency and Hungary will take over from July.

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Court rejects on Belarusian activist Karach's appeal over denied asylum in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – The Supreme Administrative Court of Lithuania on Wednesday upheld the ruling denying asylum to Olga Karach, a prominent Belarusian activist who heads the Nash Dom (Our House) NGO. 

Neringa Lukoseviciene, the court's spokeswoman, told BNS that the court upheld the lower instance court's ruling, dismissing the appeal.

Karach's appeal against the lower court's ruling to uphold the Migration Department's decision not to grant her asylum in Lithuania was heard by a three-judge panel.

Lukoseviciene did not comment on the reasons for the Supreme Administrative Court's judgement, which is final and not subject to appeal, noting that asylum cases are examined behind closed doors.

The Migration Department denied Karach asylum last August, citing as the reason the State Security Department's conclusion that her residence in the country posed a national security threat due to her alleged ties with Russian intelligence.

However, the migration body then granted the activist a temporary residence permit in Lithuania on humanitarian grounds, which can be extended. 

Karach has confirmed that she was warned by the State Security Department's officers last spring over her ties to Russian intelligence, but she refrained from elaborating further on this issue.

The activist, who has been receiving residence permits in Lithuania since 2014, applied for asylum last year.

Nash Dom says it provides humanitarian, psychological and other assistance to Belarusians both in their homeland and in Lithuania, and also monitors human rights violations.

The organization was declared extremist by Minsk in 2022. Karach was put on the "terrorist list" by the Belarusian KGB in 2021.

 

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Lithuania to send M577 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine in February – Nauseda 

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Lithuania will send M577 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine in February, President Gitanas Nauseda said on Wednesday. 

"At the State Defense Council, we have approved a 200-million-euro package of long-term military assistance to Ukraine," Nauseda said at a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Vilnius.

"We will send ammunition, generators, detonation systems to Ukraine again in January and M577 armored personnel carriers in February, and we will train Ukrainian soldiers," he added. 

 

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Lithuania to send M577 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine in February – Nauseda (expands)

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Lithuania will send M577 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine in February, President Gitanas Nauseda said on Wednesday. 

"We will send ammunition, generators, detonation systems to Ukraine again in January and M577 armored personnel carriers in February, and we will train Ukrainian soldiers," he said at a joint press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Vilnius.

Nauseda noted that Lithuania's State Defense Council has approved a long-term military aid package worth 200 million euros for Ukraine.

The Lithuanian leader also emphasized the need to ensure the continuity of long-term support from allies and partners for Ukraine.

"In order to be able to help Ukraine, the entire European defense industry must work faster (...) and adequately respond to the complex security situation," Nauseda said. 

"The Western world must understand that this is not just a Ukrainian struggle; it is a struggle for peace and freedom for all of Europe and the whole democratic world," he added.

The Lithuanian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that Lithuania will send various vehicles it purchased last year, including trucks, pickup trucks, ambulances, trailers and forklifts, to Ukraine this year. 

Aid shipments will also include UAVs, anti-drones, remote detonation systems, ammunition and ammunition magazines, warm clothing kits and various equipment needed during the winter, it said.

Most of the latest aid is aimed at meeting the needs of the Lithuanian-led coalition for demining Ukraine and will include the purchase of a wide range of demining equipment, forklifts and fuel trucks, ammunition and dry rations. This aid is to be delivered to Ukraine this year and next year, according to the ministry.

Lithuania plans to train around 3,000 Ukrainian troops by the end of this year and will continue the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers.

 

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Lithuanian formin urges EU ambassadors to continue supporting Ukraine

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has urged EU ambassadors in Lithuania not to stop supporting Ukraine and to continue pressing Russia to stop the war it started.

"When Russia does not change its goals in Ukraine and beyond, its war machine is fully operational – in Europe, we must finally give up the way of thinking that is dominant in times of peace and decisively support Ukraine until its victory," Landsbergis was quoted as saying in a statement after his Wednesday meeting with EU ambassadors residing in Lithuania and accredited to the country.

At the meeting, Landsbergis stressed the need to provide sufficient, timely and forward-looking financial, military and political support to Ukraine without delay and to continue putting pressure on Russia by adopting new sanction packages, the Foreign Ministry said.

The minister also proposed making decisions on the use of frozen Russian assets for the reconstruction of Ukraine and ensuring the Russian government accountability.

Landsbergis voiced his support for the priorities formulated by the Belgian EU presidency and the common ambition to strengthen the EU's leadership in the context of rising geopolitical tensions.

The Lithuanian foreign minister also noted that following the EU's decision in December to open accession negotiations with Ukraine and Moldova, the block must also agree as soon as possible on a clear mandate for these negotiations.

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Ukraine proves Russia can be stopped, now it has to wrest peace – Zelensky in Vilnius (expands)

(expands throughout the text)

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Ukraine has proved that Russia can be stopped and now it needs to wrest peace from it, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in Vilnius on Wednesday.

"We have proved that Russia can be stopped, that deterrence is possible. Now we have to wrest peace from Russia's hands, the kind of peace we want – a just one - and get security for our nations. The security we need. And hope," he said.

Zelensky said that this year will be decisive in many respects.

The Ukrainian leader noted that he came to Lithuania for his first visit abroad this year.

"This is not just a visit of gratitude; it is a visit of shared trust between the nations that live in the neighborhood of Russia," he said.

Zelensky said that neither Ukraine nor Lithuania will allow Russia to destroy their statehood.

"It is unfortunate to have such an inadequate neighbor which brings only misfortune and subjugation, but we will never again be hostages to geography," the president said.

"We will not allow Russia to destroy our statehood, because together we unite others," he added.

For his part, President Gitanas Nauseda said that Lithuania has supported and will continue to support Ukraine through all means – military, political and economic.

At their Vilnius summit last summer, NATO leaders pledged to invite Ukraine to join the Alliance when all of the bloc's members agree and the country meets the conditions.

Kiyv expects the Alliance's leaders to give it a clearer membership perspective at this year's Washington summit. 

"Lithuania will continue to actively support Ukraine on its path to membership of the Alliance," said Nauseda.

The Lithuanian president also said that Ukraine's place is in the European Union as well. The bloc's leaders agreed in December to launch accession talks with Kiyv.

"It is necessary to help Ukraine not only militarily, but also politically," Nauseda said.

"Lithuania understands its responsibility here very well, because we are Ukraine's voice where it may not be able to directly express its expectations," he said.

After their bilateral meeting, Nauseda and Zelensky signed a joint statement emphasizing the strategic ties between Lithuania and Ukraine, and their shared values and determination to defend Ukraine's independence.

 

 

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Lithuania's parl committee to propose to SDC to decide on military drone capability

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Lithuania's parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense will propose to the State Defense Council to make a decision on the development of drone capabilities in the army.

"The CNSD will submit to the SDC a three to four-page non-paper on how and in what directions the UAV and countermeasure capability should be developed in Lithuania," Laurynas Kasciunas, who chairs the CNSD, told the BNS on Wednesday.

He believes the state has to decide how it views and develops this capability.

On Wednesday, the committee held a close-door meeting with army representatives and was briefed about the place of drone capabilities within the national defense system. Kasciunas says the army;s existing and planned capabilities are too small.

"The capabilities that are now being developed are capabilities for a single major battle, not for a long-term war with Russia," Kasciunas said.

He also pointed out that Lithuania plans to acquire more reconnaissance drones, while combat drones seem to be in the background.

In December 2022, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry signed a contract for the acquisition of Switchblade 600 combat drones from the US, with the first batch expected to be delivered this year. The total value of the contract is around 45 million euros.

Kasciunas points out that they are intended to fight against heavy armored vehicles, and there is no mention of small combat drones.

Lithuania must, he said, create a center for the development, production, testing and training of UAVs in the country.

The CNSD will also propose giving UAVs a greater role in the national defense development program currently under consideration in the parliament.

According to the concept approved in 2017, the Lithuanian army plans to develop a reconnaissance drone capability within three years, while combat UAVs are being purchased only as part of anti-tank defense.

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Ukraine proves Russia can be stopped, now it has to wrest peace – Zelensky in Vilnius (further expands)

(expands throughout the text)

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Ukraine has proved that Russia can be stopped and now it needs to wrest peace from it, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in Vilnius on Wednesday.

"We have proved that Russia can be stopped, that deterrence is possible. Now we have to wrest peace from Russia's hands, the kind of peace we want – a just one - and get security for our nations. The security we need. And hope," he said.

Zelensky said that this year will be decisive in many respects.

The Ukrainian leader noted that he came to Lithuania for his first visit abroad this year.

"This is not just a visit of gratitude; it is a visit of shared trust between the nations that live in the neighborhood of Russia," he said.

Zelensky said that neither Ukraine nor Lithuania will allow Russia to destroy their statehood.

"It is unfortunate to have such an inadequate neighbor which brings only misfortune and subjugation, but we will never again be hostages to geography," the president said.

"We will not allow Russia to destroy our statehood, because together we unite others," he added.

Putin 'wants to occupy us completely'

Zelensky said that he has not felt or heard any pressure from Kyiv's partners to stop fighting and agree to cede its currently occupied areas to Russia.

"There is no pressure from our partners to halt our defense, military actions; there is no freezing of the conflict for now," said Zelensky in Vilnius.

The Ukrainian leader drew attention to Russian President Vladimir Putin's rhetoric. 

"He is not going to stop; he wants to occupy us completely," he said. "Partners' doubts about the outcome and financial and military support to Ukraine, and the speed of their reaction only add strength and conviction to Russia." 

Zelensky reiterated that Moscow's next target could be the Baltic states.

"The Russian president will not calm down until he destroys Ukraine. After Ukraine, you know very well who is at risk. We must understand that Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Moldova may be next," he warned. 

The Ukrainian leader said that Russia may threaten Finland and Uzbekistan.

"The fact is that this will only happen if we do not withstand (Russia)," he said. "Putin won't finish all this until we all finish him together." 

Call for political support to Kyiv

For his part, President Gitanas Nauseda said that Lithuania has supported and will continue to support Ukraine through all means – military, political and economic.

At their Vilnius summit last summer, NATO leaders pledged to invite Ukraine to join the Alliance when all of the bloc's members agree and the country meets the conditions.

Kiyv expects the Alliance's leaders to give it a clearer membership perspective at this year's Washington summit.

"Lithuania will continue to actively support Ukraine on its path to membership of the Alliance," said Nauseda.

The Lithuanian president also said that Ukraine's place is in the European Union as well. The bloc's leaders agreed in December to launch accession talks with Kiyv.

"It is necessary to help Ukraine not only militarily, but also politically," Nauseda said.

"Lithuania understands its responsibility here very well, because we are Ukraine's voice where it may not be able to directly express its expectations," he said.

After their bilateral meeting, Nauseda and Zelensky signed a joint statement emphasizing the strategic ties between Lithuania and Ukraine, and their shared values and determination to defend Ukraine's independence.

 

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Lithuania to send M577 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine in February – Nauseda (expands)

Updated version: updates throughout

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Lithuania will send M577 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine in February, President Gitanas Nauseda said on Wednesday. Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is aksing the West for air defense systems.

"We will send ammunition, generators, detonation systems to Ukraine again in January and M577 armored personnel carriers in February, and we will train Ukrainian soldiers," he said at a joint press conference with Zelensky in Vilnius.

Nauseda noted that Lithuania's State Defense Council has approved a long-term military aid package worth 200 million euros for Ukraine for 2024-2026

The Lithuanian leader also emphasized the need to ensure the continuity of long-term support from allies and partners for Ukraine.

"In order to be able to help Ukraine, the entire European defense industry must work faster (...) and adequately respond to the complex security situation," Nauseda said. 

"The Western world must understand that this is not just a Ukrainian struggle; it is a struggle for peace and freedom for all of Europe and the whole democratic world," he added.

"He wants to occupy us completely"

The West's stalling support "only adds to Russia's strength", Zelensky said.

"He (Vladimir Putin - BNS) is not going to stop, he wants to occupy us completely. Our partners' doubts about the outcome, the financial and military support to Ukraine, and the speed of their reaction only add to Russia's strength and confidence", the Ukrainian president said.

"The Russian president won’t calm down until he destroys," he added.

Republicans in the US Congress are now blocking the resumption of military aid to Ukraine, while Hungary is blocking financial support from the European Union.

More air defense systems

During Zelensky's visit, the Lithuanian Defense and Security Industries Association and Ukraine's Ministry of Strategic Industries signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation of the defense and security industry.

Lithuanian and Ukrainian companies, including RSI Europe, Brolis Semiconductors, NT Service, DMEXS and Ukrainian Defence Industry, also signed agreements on closer cooperation.

The Ukrainian leader expects more such agreements in the future, stressing that there is a shortage of weapons all over the world.

"There is a general shortage of weapons in the world, not only for us but for the rest of the world, as warehouses are empty, there are many challenges for world defense, which is why we are interested in co-production," Zelensky said. "We will do it steadily, without waiting for the entire deficit to build up on its own."

According to the Ukrainian leader, Kyiv is now short of air defense systems following Russia's several intensive missile attacks. 

"What we cannot produce today with our partners is modern air defense systems, and we lack them very badly," the Ukrainian president said. "Air defense systems are the number one thing we lack now."

Grateful for support

The Lithuanian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that Lithuania will send various vehicles it purchased last year, including trucks, pickup trucks, ambulances, trailers and forklifts, to Ukraine this year. 

Aid shipments will also include UAVs, anti-drones, remote detonation systems, ammunition and ammunition magazines, warm clothing kits and various equipment needed during the winter, it said.

Most of the latest aid is aimed at meeting the needs of the Lithuanian-led coalition for demining Ukraine and will include the purchase of a wide range of demining equipment, forklifts and fuel trucks, ammunition and dry rations. This aid is to be delivered to Ukraine this year and next year, according to the ministry.

Lithuania plans to train around 3,000 Ukrainian troops by the end of this year and will continue the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers.

"To this day, the support of your country is very important to us – the weapons, the equipment, and the training of our troops. (...) All of this adds to our strength," Zelensky underlined.

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Lithuania's ties with Ukraine grow increasingly sincere, close – Nauseda 

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Lithuania's ties with Ukraine are growing increasingly sincere and close, President Gitanas Nauseda said as he hosted his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky who arrived in Vilnius on Wednesday on an unannounced visit.

"Lithuania's relationship with Ukraine is growing increasingly sensitive, sincere and close," Nauseda said as the two leaders addressed the people of Lithuania in the square in front of the Presidential Palace.

"Our people know what it is like to be the target of Russian aggression, so they choose to act in the face of great injustice," he said. 

According to Nauseda, Zelensky is visiting Vilnius "as the leader of a country that fights and does not give up" and he "carries a message about Ukraine, hardened by the flames of war, which will never surrender its independence, its people and its dignity".

"Dear Volodymyr, thank you for what you are doing. Thank you for being!" the president told his Ukrainian counterpart.  

According to Nauseda, Lithuania "upholds Ukraine's peace formula" and "strongly emphasizes that Ukrainians must emerge victorious in this fight because the security of the whole world depends on it".

In his speech, the president said that Lithuania is among the most active supporters of Ukraine, and not only as a state, as its people also organize, collect and deliver aid, and regularly donate money. 

Lithuanians "demand more support for Ukraine and its people, both from themselves and from others," he said.

The president said that Lithuania wants to see Ukraine "as an integral part of the common Western security space".

"We want to see Ukraine in the European Union – and we will share everything we can in its reform and membership process," Nauseda said.

"Today's testimony of unity between Lithuania and Ukraine is precisely what our old deceitful enemy does not want to see. Through our example, we reject Russia's imperial ambitions and do not allow them to be realized," the president said. 

"For almost two years now, the flags of Lithuania and Ukraine stand side by side in this square. Together, they await the fulfillment of a great dream. They await Ukraine's victory in arms to end once and for all the period of predator rampage in Europe," he said.

Nauseda concluded his speech by thanking "all the defenders of Ukraine" and Zelensky. 

The Ukrainian leader's tour of the three Baltic countries comes as the second anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion approaches.

 

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There'll be no day after Ukraine, there'll be a day after war and after Putin – Zelensky

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS - Russia's imperial ambitions must be stopped because they threaten not only Ukraine but also many other countries, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in Vilnius on Wednesday.

"Now, when Moscow is trying to regain its old empire, using the full range of modern weapons, our Ukrainian courage is also a help to you. Our unity with you is also a guarantee of your security. The resilience of our troops is also your resilience," Zelensky said, addressing the people of Lithuania in Simonas Daukantas Square in central Vilnius. "Our Ukrainian sense tells us that Russia will not survive if we continue fighting against it."

When Russia started its war against Ukraine, already imagined the day of its victory, and if such a day were to dawn, Moscow would do everything to ensure that it continues and that there would be a day after Moldova, a day after the Baltic states, a day after Poland, a day after many others. 

The Russians "are killing without hesitation", torturing brutally, and have already deported hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians, Zelensky said.

"They wanted to erase everything our culture is based on," he said.

But, he said, history has shown time and again that freedom prevails when everyone is united. According to the Ukrainian president, although one cannot yet say the exact day or circumstances of victory, it will come.

"There will be no day after Ukraine. There will be a day after the war, there will be a day after Putin. It will be the day of our security, the day of our guaranteed security, the day of your unshakable freedom, the day of a peaceful life for Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Sweden, for all the countries whose fate Russia is now trying to drown in doubt," he said.

Zelensky began his address in Lithuanian: "Greetings to you, Vilnius, greetings to you, the people of Lithuania".

He thanked Lithuania for its assistance and for "holding Ukraine in your hearts during these long months and years of war".

The Ukrainian president paid an unannounced visit Lithuania on Wednesday, and he later plans to visit the other Baltic states.

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'Symbol' Zelensky inspires people with his speech in Vilnius

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS – Addressing the people of Lithuania in Vilnius on Wednesday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged them not to lose hope of victory, even though the large-scale Russian invasion is set to enter its third year.

Having listened to Zelensky's speech in Simonas Daukantas Square, Vilnius residents said his speech was inspiring and reminded some of Lithuania's own efforts to break away from the Soviet Union.

"Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the heroes!" people chanted both before and after Zelensky's appearance on stage, holding Ukrainian and Lithuanian flags and posters. 

Students, pensioners, families with children, members of the Seimas, mayors and former heads of state listened to the speeches of the Lithuanian and Ukrainian presidents.

In his speech, Zelensky said that Russia's imperial ambitions must be stopped as they threatened not only Ukraine but also many other countries. He argued that "Russia will not survive if we continue fighting against it".

The Ukrainian president began his address in Lithuanian: "Greetings to you, Vilnius, greetings to you, the people of Lithuania". He thanked Lithuania for its support and for "holding Ukraine in your hearts during these long months, years of war".

Emotional speech

Laima Malinauskiene, a 64-year-old businesswoman, told BNS that Zelensky's speech and the crowd that gathered to listen to it reminded her of the rallies of the Sajudis national revival movement she attended.

"The president's speech was very emotional. He looks tired but his inner energy kicked in when he spoke and you do believe that Ukraine will win," she said.

Speaking about Zelensky, the woman teared up. Asked what his visit meant to her, Malinauskiene said: "My life."

Klemenskas Remeika, a 22-year-old student, said he found Zelensky's speech meaningful. 

"It is about survival and the ultimate victory. (....) Personally, I think it revives hope. When it comes to the support for Ukraine, which has been waning, the president is restoring it," Remeika told BNS. "Now it turns out that Zelensky visits Lithuania once every six months. He could do that more frequently because they revive that fighting spirit."

Zelensky's last visit to Lithuania was in July when Lithuania hosted a NATO summit. He also addressed the Lithuanian people then.

A symbol

Pavel Kovtunec, a 42-year-old social activist, said he was inspired by Zelensky's speech. 

"It was what you want to hear. That people in Ukraine don't get tired of it, even though sometimes that is the impression you get, at least from the media. It was an inspiring speech. He is a symbol and has been since the first days of the war," the man said. 

Kovtunec said that he had spoken to Ukrainians who called Zelensky the leader who united the nation. 

"The speech was inspiring and reminded us of the need to support Ukraine and what a brutal enemy we have nearby," said Gabriele Jarosiunaite, a 23-year-old external communications specialist at the Lithuanian National Union of Students, adding that she's honored Zelensky is visiting Lithuania. 

"We feel appreciated and not forgotten. It was a great pleasure to see the president in person," she said.

Understandably, she said, there may be a sense of fatigue both in the West and in Lithuania regarding the war in Ukraine.

"But I really want to believe that public support and that burning desire to help Ukraine will never go away," she said.

Later on, Zelensky will also visit the other Baltic countries during his first foreign visit this year. 

 

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, January 11, 2024

VILNIUS, Jan 11, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Thursday, January 11, 2024.

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to attend the Snow Meeting at 6.30 p.m.

THE DEFENSE MINISTRY

Greek Defense Minister Nikolaos Dendias to pay a visit to Lithuania. The welcome ceremony to take place outside the Defense Ministry in central Vilnius at 11 a.m., followed by the ministers; joint press conference at 11.50 a.m.

SOCIAL PROTECTION AND LABOR MINISTER Monika Navickiene attending an informal meeting of the EU's Employment and Social Affairs Council (EPSCO) in Belgium.

FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis to meet with his Romanian and Polish counterparts and the Greek defense minister; to hold a joint press conference with the Romanian foreign minister at 11.40 p.m.

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Unanimous support for Ukraine is Lithuanian parlt's calling card

VILNIUS, Jan 10, BNS - Lithuania will continue supporting Ukraine, and unanimous support for Kyiv is the calling card of the Lithuanian Seimas, Speaker of the Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen said on Wednesday after meeting with visiting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his delegation in Vilnius.

Representatives of political groups in the Seimas also attended the meeting.

"It (support - BNS) will continue. Members of all parliamentary groups, members of the Board of Seimas were here. That united, unanimous support for Ukraine is the calling card of our Seimas. I think it was important to say this to our Ukrainian friends," Cmilyte-Nielsen told reporters after the meeting, adding that Lithuania will remain Ukraine's ambassador in all necessary formats.

"The key message is that the president thanked Lithuania and said, half jokingly and half seriously, that there is nothing more to ask of Lithuania because Lithuania is already doing its best. This is an appreciation of what we have been doing all this time since the beginning of the full-scale war," the Seimas speaker said.

The meeting also discussed the supply of arms to Ukraine, a well as support for Kyiv's EU and NATO membership, the speaker said.

She also told the Ukrainian delegation that Lithuania was committed to supporting Ukraine's NATO membership.

"We will strive to ensure that what did not happen in Vilnius happens as early as this year, at the Washington Summit, for Ukraine's NATO membership to be discussed," Cmilyte-Nielsen said.

Representing the ruling conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, Seimas Vice Speaker Paulius Saudargas said the conversation with President Zelensky was both warm and constructive as possible joint projects, such as drone production, were discussed.

"We talked about defense systems, not only what Ukraine needs, but also about common defense, that here we have everything we need, and the most key needs are air defense systems, artillery ammunition, and drones and anti-drones," he added.

Zelensky also stressed that he did not come to Lithuania to ask for support, but to thank Lithuania for it and discuss the situation, Saudargas said.

Rasa Budbergyte, elder of the opposition Social Democratic group, said the meeting "surprised with the simplicity the delegation came with as they did not ask for anything, but expressed their good feelings towards our country".

The Lithuanian lawmakers assured Zelensky that they would do their utmost to convince their Western partners and the public that the war must end with Ukraine's victory, Budbergyte said.

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