Prime Minister of Lithuania Saulius Skvernelis promised to increase the financing of the state military sector, Sputnik Lithuania reports.
"While I and the whole government are working, the defense financing will increase, the procurement system in the army will become more transparent, and the modernization of the armed forces will move forward," Skvernelis said. In addition, he said that no economic crisis could be a reason to drive Lithuania's defense system into a "debt" of more than four billion in liabilities to NATO. According to Skvernelis, such "political cynicism had already happened in our country’s history."
"One minister in due time, together with her party, pushed our defense system into the gutter, when the military units were staffed only by a third, and the wind was walking in the warehouses. Today they are trying to forget all this, putting labels," the head of government said. The prime minister criticized the former leadership of the defense ministry, which, in his opinion, "indulged Russia." Mr. Skvernelis drew attention to the authorities' actions before the economic crisis, which were already made after the events in South Ossetia in 2008. "However, this did not prevent the then government from breaking up the defense system, signing agreements in connection with bridges to Kaliningrad, or thanking Putin for opening the market for dairy products," the Lithuanian prime minister said.
At that time, the Defense Ministry of the Republic was headed by Rasa Jukneviciene, who currently holds the post of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly President. However, he said that he "does not intend to name former ministers as Kremlin candidates or agents, or to call on fellow party members to label competitors."
Earlier, Jukneviciene, in an interview with the LRT channel, said that Russia was conducting "various operations" to influence Lithuania's policy. She also urged the head of the ruling, the Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union party, Ramunas Karbauskis and the mayor of Kaunas Visvaldas Matijošaitis to abandon their business in Russia, as this, in her opinion, is incompatible with the status of coalition politicians.
In turn, former Prime Minister of Lithuania, former Conservative leader Andrius Kubilius stated, that the state institutions of the republic should be secured against the capital earned in Russia. Kubilius and Jukneviciene are part of the conservative "The Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats" party, whose representatives are known for their Russophobic statements, and are in opposition to the ruling Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union party.