Blood brothers?

Full video transcript

BLOOD BROTHERS?

Why Lithuanians feel Ukraine’s pain

...and how they avoided the same fate

People of Lithuania and Ukraine

have a long shared history.

Centuries ago, they even formed one

of Europe’s biggest countries together

and more recently in the last

25 years, both have had revolutions.

But the revolutions’ results

have proved very different.

Lithuania, for example,

started 2015 as part of the Eurozone

with a reviving economy and plans

to beef up its NATO presence.

Ukraine, however, started the year

with a war raging in its east,

a bankrupt economy

and over half a million Ukrainians

refugees in their own country.

So why did these countries

paths turn out so differently,

and how close did Lithuania come

to the same fate as Ukraine?

To understand the difference,

we have to look

at what happened in Lithuania.

On March 11th 1990,

Lithuania declared its independence

from the Soviet Union.

Negotiations with Moscow

on recognition of the state continued

until, in January 1991,

the Soviet Union sent in armed forces

to put down the people’s revolution.

That night, 14 people were killed

and more than one thousand injured.

I was one of those students,

who stood among many,

many other thousand people,

who stood that night

and many other nights afterwards

in front of the parliament building.

The Lithuanians fought back,

with songs.

And then I say defending...

This defence consisted

mainly of singing songs,

praying the rosary

or erecting the barricades.

This may look

like just another singsong

but it is a key part of the Lithuanian

struggle for independence.

When the tanks rolled

into Vilnius over 20 years ago,

the advice from

the independence leader was sing.

Sing, no fighting,

no aggression, just sing.

The man who gave that advice

was the independence leader

Vytautas Landsbergis.

For him, this wasn’t a struggle

to take on the whole Soviet system,

it was the Lithuanians saying

they no longer wanted

to live in the Soviet bloc.

An arrangement,

which had been decided

under the Nazi-Soviet Pact

50 years beforehand.

If you want to keep the old

Soviet Union, it is your business.

We are independent in spirit,

in law, in international law,

in our eyes, and we are doing it.

Instead of following

its new open glasnost approach,

Moscow gave Lithuania

a traditional and severe reproach.

When the Soviet forces

attacked Lithuania in 1991,

they headed for the parliament

as well as the TV tower and studio.

The aim was to take down those who

stood for freedom and their voices.

Eglie Bucalaite was broadcasting

to the nation that night

as the violence unfolded.

This is the studio that Eglie was

broadcasting from that day in 1991.

And this is the door

that Soviet forces kicked down.

I do not think anybody was thinking

about their own safety at that time.

The only moment when it wasn’t clear

whether I will survive or not,

were those minutes when I saw

those soldiers in uniforms and masks

walking in the corridors

and I was sitting in the studio.

Then the thought occurred to me,

whether this is the end of my life

and how simple and unexpected

everything may end.

This was a key moment.

Control of information

was vital to the Soviets,

especially in fighting the revolution.

Soviet times were terrifying.

I could listen to the anthem

only on American radio.

We'll find a Lithuanian

transmission on radio.

When the anthem was playing,

I would put it on the highest volume

so it could be heard

in the whole house.

The premises were occupied

by a military television,

which was making broadcasts

of a completely opposite information.

A Russian propaganda,

which would make us laugh today,

if nothing would be

happening in Ukraine.

In fact, we see the same thing.

The attack on the TV stations

led to 14 deaths,

but soon Soviet tactics escalated

to something even more sinister.

On July 31st 1991, there were 8 men

working in this customs hut

on the Lithuanian border.

The hut was suddenly ambushed

by Russian forces from the woods.

They wore sneakers so as not to

be heard as they approached the hut.

They burst into the hut and forced

all 8 men who were working here

onto the floor in this patch here,

and then one by one,

shot each in the back of the head,

execution style, with a silenced gun.

These 7 men, some of them

as young as 20, all died instantly.

There was only one survivor

who can still tell the story,

and that man is Tomas Šernas.

This place resembled the Ukrainian

Maidan, but nobody was singing.

We had to work

and there were no crowds,

just 7 or 8 people situated by a forest

without any means

of telecommunication.

When I was working,

I was sitting behind that desk.

It was an early morning,

two hours till sunrise.

The trailer was standing

where those crosses are placed.

I heard a strange noise,

I raised my eyes

and I saw a man

running and holding a gun.

They were Russians

wearing Russian uniforms

which didn’t have distinctive signs,

and they were without military shoes,

they were wearing sneakers.

This allowed them

to sneak in silently during the night.

The lights were turned off. We were

told to lay down on the ground.

When they started shooting, there

was no sound, so they died silently.

A gun had a silencer,

so there was no sound of a shooting.

They didn’t say anything.

They were only

shooting them in their heads.

The same was done to me.

The attack took place on Lithuania’s

border with Belarus and even today,

the mentalities on either side

of the border remain starkly different.

We’re here on the Lithuanian border.

Lithuania on this side

and Belarus over there.

But this is more

than just a geographical divide,

this is an ideological divide.

On this side, the European Union,

on the other side, what’s been

called the last dictatorship of Europe,

and now we’re going

to show you what it’s like.

Belarus has spent the 25 years

since the end of the Soviet Union

remaining a close ally of Russia,

politically and economically.

By not opposing Russia,

it’s benefitted

from cheap oil and gas deals.

Ukraine has been regularly punished

since 1991 by Moscow

if it made moves towards Europe.

And the results

are clear in the economy.

Lithuania got similar treatment when

it dared challenge Moscow before.

We were challenged

in the beginning of the ‘90s,

maybe you do not remember, but I do.

There were empty streets,

there was no gas and no cars.

It was wintertime,

I remember the cold in the flats.

It was kind of a lesson because we

would like to be independent so okay,

we can be independent

and this is the price.

Lithuania turned this

to its advantage.

In these eight months, we were able

to turn our economy towards the West

and in eight months,

we started to trade with the West,

practically two-thirds of our economy.

Today, Lithuania leads

the calls for ensuring

that sanctions are imposed

on Russia for its actions in Ukraine,

even though these sanctions

hurt their economy.

Being next to Russia, we are suffering

the most from the sanctions.

Our agriculture sector,

our transport sector,

they are suffering every day

and despite that fact,

we are still being one of the biggest

proponents of the sanctions

because that’s the only way

how you can stop aggression,

how you can send very strong

messages to the Russian leadership.

The reaction

of Moscow has been similar

to both Lithuania

and Ukraine’s uprising.

And it may be

because in both 1991 and today,

the Russian economy was in trouble.

We realised very well

that Soviet Union as such is bankrupt.

And they realised,

therefore they wanted

to manipulate with some reforms,

but how to save the empire.

Nationalism was a distraction.

And it is the same today.

The economy’s ruined, frankly.

No investments, no perspectives.

In addition,

oil prices... even a bit improved,

but not yet

to the perfect so to say level.

So the situation’s really bad.

You can refer to the nationalism,

but how many times you can do that?

This channel Russia Today,

or I’m calling Russia Yesterday,

or Russian-speaking channels,

this is terrible propaganda.

Sometimes it’s misinterpreted

as freedom of speech.

If Goebbels was journalist,

then I’m giving up.

But just as the attacks

on both revolutions are similar,

so has the unity of the people

fighting for them.

We have to stand

together with Ukraine

and not only we as Lithuanians,

but I think the whole Europe has...

has to do so

because what’s happening in Ukraine

is not only about Ukraine,

as it wasn’t only about Lithuania.

2018 will be the 100th anniversary

of Lithuania’s

declaration of independence.

But 2015 is an important year too

because Lithuania

joined the Eurozone,

it adopted the euro and this is

a new Lithuanian euro coin.

Sitting at the heart

of the EU is one thing,

but Lithuania knows

that convincing some partners

that compromising with Russia

doesn't work, will be just as difficult.

Looking around such solid

international institutions, big budgets,

a lot of ambitions,

21st century, we can do nothing

when European country invading

other neighbouring country,

and we can do nothing,

just statements of concern.

Is it not strange for you? For me it is.

What is compromise?

They are always,

as in our case in 1990,

they demanded capitulation,

calling it compromise.

He remembers

that despite the Soviet Union

making the right noises in public,

behind the scenes,

Lithuanian leaders

were being threatened.

You will never be

given your independence,

they were words of Gorbachev to me.

Be reasonable, it is unrealistic.

Come to real matters.

We will give you more autonomy.

Now you are given 7%

of your national income in currency.

7%. We will give you 20, be happy.

For normal people and for...

Why not 100%? It's our profit.

And for some, just engaging

in talks over concessions

for Russian aggression in Ukraine

actually makes the situation worse.

I won't say that we are responsible,

we are not attacking Ukraine,

we’re not invading that country.

But by being passive,

or by being not consistent,

we are contributing to the escalation.

Why we are talking today openly,

and we see that what is on-going

is the Munich 2,

the sell-out of Ukraine.

I could remind the advice of one

old woman in a Lithuanian village.

She said: Boys,

don’t make even a little step back

because they will put their foot

on this place where was your feet.

Worse still, whilst the world

unites against terrorism,

some feel that terrorist tactics

are now a Moscow tool.

If you have professional military

without identification signs

and the flag,

how you call it?

Of course it is professional

and we know that it is Russian

military, but they behave as terrorists.

Victims are victims

if they are civilians.

I’m always saying this example.

I took part in the march in Paris,

this 'Je suis Charlie',

and I marched together

with all colleagues defending,

you know, freedom of speech.

There were twice more victims

per day than in Paris at that time.

So maybe not correct to compare

because every victim is one too many.

And it is the ideology in the Kremlin

that worries many the most.

It reflects

a resurgent nationalistic country

while the Kremlin says

it needs to protect all Russians.

Russia is a state, which has

no borders, that is to be realised.

Even east to Ukraine,

they still suffer that there is a border

between Baltic states and Russia,

and they don’t have even

with Estonia a state border.

It can be as simple as saying that

Russian-speakers need protection.

We have many English-speakers

everywhere in the world

and maybe the United Kingdom

may come to India back.

They are English-speakers,

maybe they suffer.

Perhaps the different viewpoints

are due to different definitions.

Does democracy mean the same

in Russia as it does in the West?

They have a special democracy.

Their democracy is different.

It’s specific Russian democracy.

In Western meaning, partnership

is doing something together

for common good,

for common benefit.

In Eastern, in Russian understanding,

partnership is a game

in which your partner

is to be put on his knees.

So what do they recommend

that the West do

in the face of Putin's aggression?

My advice is not to listen

what he says. Look what he makes.

Look at the action.

They are still talking.

Oh, what he said. What he has said

today, what he has said yesterday.

There is a difference.

The irony is

that Ukraine had its chance

to turn to the West by signing

an EU association agreement

during Lithuania’s EU presidency.

President Yanukovych

had the chance to break

with the aggression of

an unpredictable Russian neighbour.

But that’s not how things worked out.

And it’s that entrance behind me

where the story comes full circle.

It was there that the EU presidency

that was held by Lithuania,

the first Baltic state

to have that presidency,

had arranged for a meeting

where the agreement with Ukraine

was going to be signed by former

president of Ukraine Yanukovych.

He arrived but refused

to sign the agreement

under pressure from the Kremlin.

And it was that refusal

that led to the Euromaidan protests.

Another irony is that a Lithuanian,

Aivaras Abromavicius,

is minister

for economic development and trade

in the new government,

which was formed

after Russian-speaking

ex-President Yanukovych

ran away to live in Russia.

By contrast, in Lithuania, the leaders

and the people stayed united.

But what if their common vision

of a Lithuania in Europe had not held?

What would be Lithuania’s position

today if it hadn’t joined NATO?

You know, I don’t even

want to think about it.

I only can thank God that the decision

of our nation 25 years ago

was for the freedom

and we became the members

of NATO and the European Union,

and for us it is new chance of history,

and we took it.

And so you have no idea about

how events could have developed if...

Don’t even want to think about it.

It's clear

that the path that Lithuania took

is possibly the only one that can

guarantee the country’s safety.

Again, recalling 2008, Georgia,

they were not members of NATO.

We have a result. Ukraine,

a big country in the middle of Europe,

they are not members of NATO,

we have a result.

This is the difference.

But the best measure

of how safe people feel

is simply to ask them. So we did.

Do you feel

that Lithuania is safe today?

I think yes.

- Yes, still quite safe.

Well, maybe not 100%, but...

Ok. And why is it safe?

- Because we’re in NATO.

Because you’re in NATO?

- Yes, I think so.

At least... Today I spoke

with my parents and we said:

Thank God we’re still not

in such a situation,

we're just happy for this moment.

I hope that it will not happen here

like in the east.

Ok, I feel quite good.

I know that the situation

in the east is very difficult

but because of NATO, I feel very good.

Yeah, I remember the Soviet Union

and I'm happy now that we are

in the opposite side right now.

What was the feeling

when Ukraine’s revolution

and subsequent battle

started last year?

I felt pity for our other neighbours

who practically lost these 25 years

of their independence

after the Soviet system

was collapsing, like Ukraine.

For some, it goes

beyond words of encouragement.

For some, it provides

an opportunity to play a part

in a bid for freedom

that they missed in 1991.

Žana Puodžius has

been helping volunteers

fighting against Russian-backed

rebels in Ukraine,

from Donetsk to Debal’tseve.

During the Ukraine, I understood

what happened at my country.

I was very little,

I didn’t remember it.

And it was just history, I know it,

we learnt in the school and so on,

but I didn’t have

real emotion about this.

And in Ukraine I started to understand

what happened in our country,

very deep.

Even for those

who were around in 1991,

Ukraine's battles made them realise

how close they came to that fate.

Yes, this really reminds me

of those days

and it strikes me

that we are very lucky.

I make a comparison with everything

that is happening in Ukraine now.

It wasn’t easy, it was really hard,

I cannot say that we have escaped

from the Soviet Union easily,

without any damages,

without any sacrifices.

But when I see

what is happening now,

how long it lasts

and how much it costs,

it is hard to believe

and I feel an endless joy

that we didn’t have

such an ending in Lithuania

and that we have been free for years.

Lithuania provided many warnings

about Russia to its European partners.

But these were often dismissed

as being over cautious.

Today, Lithuania can confidently say

it called the situation right.

We were talking ten years ago

that we need to look to Russia

through a different angle,

and now it seems that we are

right about our understanding.

We were right

about our analysis of Russia,

about the internal processes

in Russia.

And now there is

also an additional argument

why people in Europe now listen

more carefully to what we are saying.

And there are

deeper lessons for us all:

that freedom can

never be taken for granted.

I think

it was President Reagan who said

that freedom is only

one generation away from extinction.

So every generation has

to do its work.

Freedom is always contested,

it’s never granted.

And that the joy from securing

freedom should never be forgotten.

We made the right decision

to join NATO and the European Union.

That’s the first point

I want to mention.

In those days I was defence minister,

I remember the accession process,

all these emotions

during the very day of membership.

When I was in Washington and

I received a call from my duty officer

that Belgian jets crossed our airspace

and were going to land in our airbase

to conduct their policing.

It was a few hours before the moment

of membership, literally speaking.

It's very difficult

to explain what were the feelings.

It was something very, very special.

And these feelings are

still quite strong.

I felt proud that we managed

to do what we did in proper time,

that we knew our neighbour

and we knew what we need to do

because of our knowledge

of this neighbour,

and that we are

on the right side of history today.

And it is huge luck for our nation.

It’s a luck

that’s not shared by Ukraine.

At least, not yet.

BLOOD BROTHERS?

Why Lithuanians feel Ukraine’s pain

...and how they avoided the same fate

People of Lithuania and Ukraine

have a long shared history.

Centuries ago, they even formed one

of Europe’s biggest countries together

and more recently in the last

25 years, both have had revolutions.

But the revolutions’ results

have proved very different.

Lithuania, for example,

started 2015 as part of the Eurozone

with a reviving economy and plans

to beef up its NATO presence.

Ukraine, however, started the year

with a war raging in its east,

a bankrupt economy

and over half a million Ukrainians

refugees in their own country.

So why did these countries

paths turn out so differently,

and how close did Lithuania come

to the same fate as Ukraine?

To understand the difference,

we have to look

at what happened in Lithuania.

On March 11th 1990,

Lithuania declared its independence

from the Soviet Union.

Negotiations with Moscow

on recognition of the state continued

until, in January 1991,

the Soviet Union sent in armed forces

to put down the people’s revolution.

That night, 14 people were killed

and more than one thousand injured.

I was one of those students,

who stood among many,

many other thousand people,

who stood that night

and many other nights afterwards

in front of the parliament building.

The Lithuanians fought back,

with songs.

And then I say defending...

This defence consisted

mainly of singing songs,

praying the rosary

or erecting the barricades.

This may look

like just another singsong

but it is a key part of the Lithuanian

struggle for independence.

When the tanks rolled

into Vilnius over 20 years ago,

the advice from

the independence leader was sing.

Sing, no fighting,

no aggression, just sing.

The man who gave that advice

was the independence leader

Vytautas Landsbergis.

For him, this wasn’t a struggle

to take on the whole Soviet system,

it was the Lithuanians saying

they no longer wanted

to live in the Soviet bloc.

An arrangement,

which had been decided

under the Nazi-Soviet Pact

50 years beforehand.

If you want to keep the old

Soviet Union, it is your business.

We are independent in spirit,

in law, in international law,

in our eyes, and we are doing it.

Instead of following

its new open glasnost approach,

Moscow gave Lithuania

a traditional and severe reproach.

When the Soviet forces

attacked Lithuania in 1991,

they headed for the parliament

as well as the TV tower and studio.

The aim was to take down those who

stood for freedom and their voices.

Eglie Bucalaite was broadcasting

to the nation that night

as the violence unfolded.

This is the studio that Eglie was

broadcasting from that day in 1991.

And this is the door

that Soviet forces kicked down.

I do not think anybody was thinking

about their own safety at that time.

The only moment when it wasn’t clear

whether I will survive or not,

were those minutes when I saw

those soldiers in uniforms and masks

walking in the corridors

and I was sitting in the studio.

Then the thought occurred to me,

whether this is the end of my life

and how simple and unexpected

everything may end.

This was a key moment.

Control of information

was vital to the Soviets,

especially in fighting the revolution.

Soviet times were terrifying.

I could listen to the anthem

only on American radio.

We'll find a Lithuanian

transmission on radio.

When the anthem was playing,

I would put it on the highest volume

so it could be heard

in the whole house.

The premises were occupied

by a military television,

which was making broadcasts

of a completely opposite information.

A Russian propaganda,

which would make us laugh today,

if nothing would be

happening in Ukraine.

In fact, we see the same thing.

The attack on the TV stations

led to 14 deaths,

but soon Soviet tactics escalated

to something even more sinister.

On July 31st 1991, there were 8 men

working in this customs hut

on the Lithuanian border.

The hut was suddenly ambushed

by Russian forces from the woods.

They wore sneakers so as not to

be heard as they approached the hut.

They burst into the hut and forced

all 8 men who were working here

onto the floor in this patch here,

and then one by one,

shot each in the back of the head,

execution style, with a silenced gun.

These 7 men, some of them

as young as 20, all died instantly.

There was only one survivor

who can still tell the story,

and that man is Tomas Šernas.

This place resembled the Ukrainian

Maidan, but nobody was singing.

We had to work

and there were no crowds,

just 7 or 8 people situated by a forest

without any means

of telecommunication.

When I was working,

I was sitting behind that desk.

It was an early morning,

two hours till sunrise.

The trailer was standing

where those crosses are placed.

I heard a strange noise,

I raised my eyes

and I saw a man

running and holding a gun.

They were Russians

wearing Russian uniforms

which didn’t have distinctive signs,

and they were without military shoes,

they were wearing sneakers.

This allowed them

to sneak in silently during the night.

The lights were turned off. We were

told to lay down on the ground.

When they started shooting, there

was no sound, so they died silently.

A gun had a silencer,

so there was no sound of a shooting.

They didn’t say anything.

They were only

shooting them in their heads.

The same was done to me.

The attack took place on Lithuania’s

border with Belarus and even today,

the mentalities on either side

of the border remain starkly different.

We’re here on the Lithuanian border.

Lithuania on this side

and Belarus over there.

But this is more

than just a geographical divide,

this is an ideological divide.

On this side, the European Union,

on the other side, what’s been

called the last dictatorship of Europe,

and now we’re going

to show you what it’s like.

Belarus has spent the 25 years

since the end of the Soviet Union

remaining a close ally of Russia,

politically and economically.

By not opposing Russia,

it’s benefitted

from cheap oil and gas deals.

Ukraine has been regularly punished

since 1991 by Moscow

if it made moves towards Europe.

And the results

are clear in the economy.

Lithuania got similar treatment when

it dared challenge Moscow before.

We were challenged

in the beginning of the ‘90s,

maybe you do not remember, but I do.

There were empty streets,

there was no gas and no cars.

It was wintertime,

I remember the cold in the flats.

It was kind of a lesson because we

would like to be independent so okay,

we can be independent

and this is the price.

Lithuania turned this

to its advantage.

In these eight months, we were able

to turn our economy towards the West

and in eight months,

we started to trade with the West,

practically two-thirds of our economy.

Today, Lithuania leads

the calls for ensuring

that sanctions are imposed

on Russia for its actions in Ukraine,

even though these sanctions

hurt their economy.

Being next to Russia, we are suffering

the most from the sanctions.

Our agriculture sector,

our transport sector,

they are suffering every day

and despite that fact,

we are still being one of the biggest

proponents of the sanctions

because that’s the only way

how you can stop aggression,

how you can send very strong

messages to the Russian leadership.

The reaction

of Moscow has been similar

to both Lithuania

and Ukraine’s uprising.

And it may be

because in both 1991 and today,

the Russian economy was in trouble.

We realised very well

that Soviet Union as such is bankrupt.

And they realised,

therefore they wanted

to manipulate with some reforms,

but how to save the empire.

Nationalism was a distraction.

And it is the same today.

The economy’s ruined, frankly.

No investments, no perspectives.

In addition,

oil prices... even a bit improved,

but not yet

to the perfect so to say level.

So the situation’s really bad.

You can refer to the nationalism,

but how many times you can do that?

This channel Russia Today,

or I’m calling Russia Yesterday,

or Russian-speaking channels,

this is terrible propaganda.

Sometimes it’s misinterpreted

as freedom of speech.

If Goebbels was journalist,

then I’m giving up.

But just as the attacks

on both revolutions are similar,

so has the unity of the people

fighting for them.

We have to stand

together with Ukraine

and not only we as Lithuanians,

but I think the whole Europe has...

has to do so

because what’s happening in Ukraine

is not only about Ukraine,

as it wasn’t only about Lithuania.

2018 will be the 100th anniversary

of Lithuania’s

declaration of independence.

But 2015 is an important year too

because Lithuania

joined the Eurozone,

it adopted the euro and this is

a new Lithuanian euro coin.

Sitting at the heart

of the EU is one thing,

but Lithuania knows

that convincing some partners

that compromising with Russia

doesn't work, will be just as difficult.

Looking around such solid

international institutions, big budgets,

a lot of ambitions,

21st century, we can do nothing

when European country invading

other neighbouring country,

and we can do nothing,

just statements of concern.

Is it not strange for you? For me it is.

What is compromise?

They are always,

as in our case in 1990,

they demanded capitulation,

calling it compromise.

He remembers

that despite the Soviet Union

making the right noises in public,

behind the scenes,

Lithuanian leaders

were being threatened.

You will never be

given your independence,

they were words of Gorbachev to me.

Be reasonable, it is unrealistic.

Come to real matters.

We will give you more autonomy.

Now you are given 7%

of your national income in currency.

7%. We will give you 20, be happy.

For normal people and for...

Why not 100%? It's our profit.

And for some, just engaging

in talks over concessions

for Russian aggression in Ukraine

actually makes the situation worse.

I won't say that we are responsible,

we are not attacking Ukraine,

we’re not invading that country.

But by being passive,

or by being not consistent,

we are contributing to the escalation.

Why we are talking today openly,

and we see that what is on-going

is the Munich 2,

the sell-out of Ukraine.

I could remind the advice of one

old woman in a Lithuanian village.

She said: Boys,

don’t make even a little step back

because they will put their foot

on this place where was your feet.

Worse still, whilst the world

unites against terrorism,

some feel that terrorist tactics

are now a Moscow tool.

If you have professional military

without identification signs

and the flag,

how you call it?

Of course it is professional

and we know that it is Russian

military, but they behave as terrorists.

Victims are victims

if they are civilians.

I’m always saying this example.

I took part in the march in Paris,

this 'Je suis Charlie',

and I marched together

with all colleagues defending,

you know, freedom of speech.

There were twice more victims

per day than in Paris at that time.

So maybe not correct to compare

because every victim is one too many.

And it is the ideology in the Kremlin

that worries many the most.

It reflects

a resurgent nationalistic country

while the Kremlin says

it needs to protect all Russians.

Russia is a state, which has

no borders, that is to be realised.

Even east to Ukraine,

they still suffer that there is a border

between Baltic states and Russia,

and they don’t have even

with Estonia a state border.

It can be as simple as saying that

Russian-speakers need protection.

We have many English-speakers

everywhere in the world

and maybe the United Kingdom

may come to India back.

They are English-speakers,

maybe they suffer.

Perhaps the different viewpoints

are due to different definitions.

Does democracy mean the same

in Russia as it does in the West?

They have a special democracy.

Their democracy is different.

It’s specific Russian democracy.

In Western meaning, partnership

is doing something together

for common good,

for common benefit.

In Eastern, in Russian understanding,

partnership is a game

in which your partner

is to be put on his knees.

So what do they recommend

that the West do

in the face of Putin's aggression?

My advice is not to listen

what he says. Look what he makes.

Look at the action.

They are still talking.

Oh, what he said. What he has said

today, what he has said yesterday.

There is a difference.

The irony is

that Ukraine had its chance

to turn to the West by signing

an EU association agreement

during Lithuania’s EU presidency.

President Yanukovych

had the chance to break

with the aggression of

an unpredictable Russian neighbour.

But that’s not how things worked out.

And it’s that entrance behind me

where the story comes full circle.

It was there that the EU presidency

that was held by Lithuania,

the first Baltic state

to have that presidency,

had arranged for a meeting

where the agreement with Ukraine

was going to be signed by former

president of Ukraine Yanukovych.

He arrived but refused

to sign the agreement

under pressure from the Kremlin.

And it was that refusal

that led to the Euromaidan protests.

Another irony is that a Lithuanian,

Aivaras Abromavicius,

is minister

for economic development and trade

in the new government,

which was formed

after Russian-speaking

ex-President Yanukovych

ran away to live in Russia.

By contrast, in Lithuania, the leaders

and the people stayed united.

But what if their common vision

of a Lithuania in Europe had not held?

What would be Lithuania’s position

today if it hadn’t joined NATO?

You know, I don’t even

want to think about it.

I only can thank God that the decision

of our nation 25 years ago

was for the freedom

and we became the members

of NATO and the European Union,

and for us it is new chance of history,

and we took it.

And so you have no idea about

how events could have developed if...

Don’t even want to think about it.

It's clear

that the path that Lithuania took

is possibly the only one that can

guarantee the country’s safety.

Again, recalling 2008, Georgia,

they were not members of NATO.

We have a result. Ukraine,

a big country in the middle of Europe,

they are not members of NATO,

we have a result.

This is the difference.

But the best measure

of how safe people feel

is simply to ask them. So we did.

Do you feel

that Lithuania is safe today?

I think yes.

- Yes, still quite safe.

Well, maybe not 100%, but...

Ok. And why is it safe?

- Because we’re in NATO.

Because you’re in NATO?

- Yes, I think so.

At least... Today I spoke

with my parents and we said:

Thank God we’re still not

in such a situation,

we're just happy for this moment.

I hope that it will not happen here

like in the east.

Ok, I feel quite good.

I know that the situation

in the east is very difficult

but because of NATO, I feel very good.

Yeah, I remember the Soviet Union

and I'm happy now that we are

in the opposite side right now.

What was the feeling

when Ukraine’s revolution

and subsequent battle

started last year?

I felt pity for our other neighbours

who practically lost these 25 years

of their independence

after the Soviet system

was collapsing, like Ukraine.

For some, it goes

beyond words of encouragement.

For some, it provides

an opportunity to play a part

in a bid for freedom

that they missed in 1991.

Žana Puodžius has

been helping volunteers

fighting against Russian-backed

rebels in Ukraine,

from Donetsk to Debal’tseve.

During the Ukraine, I understood

what happened at my country.

I was very little,

I didn’t remember it.

And it was just history, I know it,

we learnt in the school and so on,

but I didn’t have

real emotion about this.

And in Ukraine I started to understand

what happened in our country,

very deep.

Even for those

who were around in 1991,

Ukraine's battles made them realise

how close they came to that fate.

Yes, this really reminds me

of those days

and it strikes me

that we are very lucky.

I make a comparison with everything

that is happening in Ukraine now.

It wasn’t easy, it was really hard,

I cannot say that we have escaped

from the Soviet Union easily,

without any damages,

without any sacrifices.

But when I see

what is happening now,

how long it lasts

and how much it costs,

it is hard to believe

and I feel an endless joy

that we didn’t have

such an ending in Lithuania

and that we have been free for years.

Lithuania provided many warnings

about Russia to its European partners.

But these were often dismissed

as being over cautious.

Today, Lithuania can confidently say

it called the situation right.

We were talking ten years ago

that we need to look to Russia

through a different angle,

and now it seems that we are

right about our understanding.

We were right

about our analysis of Russia,

about the internal processes

in Russia.

And now there is

also an additional argument

why people in Europe now listen

more carefully to what we are saying.

And there are

deeper lessons for us all:

that freedom can

never be taken for granted.

I think

it was President Reagan who said

that freedom is only

one generation away from extinction.

So every generation has

to do its work.

Freedom is always contested,

it’s never granted.

And that the joy from securing

freedom should never be forgotten.

We made the right decision

to join NATO and the European Union.

That’s the first point

I want to mention.

In those days I was defence minister,

I remember the accession process,

all these emotions

during the very day of membership.

When I was in Washington and

I received a call from my duty officer

that Belgian jets crossed our airspace

and were going to land in our airbase

to conduct their policing.

It was a few hours before the moment

of membership, literally speaking.

It's very difficult

to explain what were the feelings.

It was something very, very special.

And these feelings are

still quite strong.

I felt proud that we managed

to do what we did in proper time,

that we knew our neighbour

and we knew what we need to do

because of our knowledge

of this neighbour,

and that we are

on the right side of history today.

And it is huge luck for our nation.

It’s a luck

that’s not shared by Ukraine.

At least, not yet.

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