Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė said on Wednesday that Russia suspending its participation in the New START nuclear arms reduction treaty is Moscow’s “trick to increase pressure.”
“It’s in [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s habit to use tricks like that, you know, to increase pressure. And there is no big surprise in this,” the prime minister told CNN’s Isa Soares in an interview.
Šimonytė demanded more NATO forces on the ground in the alliance’s eastern flank, as well as higher investment in air defense to serve as “deterrence” against Russia.
“There should be an upscale of the military presence on the eastern flank from battalion up to brigade,” she said.
Šimonytė urged Kyiv’s allies to increase military support to Ukraine.
“How can you push back Russia’s military forces if you do not have heavy weapons?” she questioned.
The prime minister went on to address the importance of getting resources to Ukraine quicker. In previous occasions, time was lost in conversations that led to weapons being delivered with a “delay of a couple of months,” she said.
“This means that people’s lives were being lost during those sorts of moments of, you know, of debate and hesitation,” the Lithuanian leader said, adding “it would be in the best interest of all the countries that can provide the relevant weapons or relevant means to make those decisions faster than later.”
Šimonytė admitted Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a “wakeup call,” which has created a “rush to review the policies towards the defense spending.”
“Countries in this region, of course, have changed their attitudes or have increased their spending on defense and security significantly since the Crimea invasion and are continuing to do so in recent years because our defense spending will be somewhere between 2.5, 3% of GDP this year,” she said.