European Rhetoric Is Undermining NATO, Lithuanian Minister Warns

Examiner (Washington, D.C.), The, February 8, 2019 | Go to article overview

European Rhetoric Is Undermining NATO, Lithuanian Minister Warns


European talk of establishing a continental army independent of the United States is serving to undermine political stability within NATO, according to a top Baltic diplomat.

“We are experiencing now a period which is testing our strength and unity, by all means — boats rocked from both sides,” Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevicius told the Washington Examiner.

Linkevicius believes the credibility of the transatlantic alliance has come into question thanks to controversies swirling around President Trump’s posture towards it, dating back to his presidential campaign and stoked by perennial rumors he'll seek to withdraw the United States from the union. But European leaders aren’t guiltless, he said.

“So this mobilizes some skeptics in the European Union saying that we have to do that autonomously, we have to develop our own projects,” Linkevicius said. “Ideas about European armies — which nobody knows what that means, nor are we going to implement, frankly. But it's discussed, creates quite [a bit of] ambiguity and suspicion from the U.S. side. So, all in all, we're really rocking the boat and testing, is it really viable enough?”

Russia maintains that it is not. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov argues that with a lack of “a reason for its existence,” NATO is “doomed to failure,” as he put it in 2017. “NATO has destabilized and continues to destabilize the security structure in Europe,” he said. But Russian’s annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine serve as a vivid reminder, for former Soviet satellite states, of the value of NATO in an era when U.S. and major European leaders seem at odds with each other and internally conflicted about the proper Western view of Russia.

“So on the ground militarily, I would say NATO has been strengthened in the last couple of years,” former NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the Washington Examiner in December. “But having said that, it is a matter of concern that NATO, at the same time, has been politically weakened because of the statements by the president that could be interpreted as a lack of commitment to NATO Article V,” which establishes that “an attack against one Ally is considered as an attack against all Allies. …

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