Russia was called a “terrorist state” by Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite as fears of World War 3 continue to rise in the region and Russia’s neighbors are preparing for the possibility of war.
In a statement this week, Grybauskaite said the conflict between Russia and Ukraine will have far-reaching consequences. As Russia sends more troops and heavy weaponry into Ukraine to support pro-Moscow rebels, Grybauskaite said the rest of Europe could be at risk as well.
“Lithuania is one of the countries that recently walked a difficult road towards the restoration of independence. We know that today Ukraine is fighting for peace in Europe, for all of us,” Grybauskaite told national radio. “If a terrorist state that is engaged in open aggression against its neighbor is not stopped, then that aggression might spread further into Europe.”
Russia has officially denied any involvement in Ukraine, saying the only troops who may be there are “volunteers.”
“There’s some people who used to be military who are retired,” said Dmitry Peskov, chief spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia has become increasingly aggressive with its neighbors in the Baltics, including dozens of flights from warplanes and fighter jets meant to test NATO defenses. Last month, a Russian sub was spotted in waters outside Sweden, just miles from Stockholm.
Now those countries are ready to defend themselves and the possibility of World War 3. After a Russian warship entered Latvia’s exclusive economic zone, Latvia’s defense minister Raimonds Vejonis told Newsweek his country is prepared to fight back.
“We have special plans of action. Working with the Ministry of Interior, we conduct exercises to train our troops and policemen for different scenarios,” he said. “But of course we need more co-operation with our neighbors and our NATO allies as well.”
Sven Sakkov, Estonia’s undersecretary of defense, said the threats of World War 3 actually go back several years to Russia’s skrimish with Georgia in 2008.
“We Estonians didn’t think that the history ended two decades ago,” Sakkov said. “The 2008 war in Georgia was a wakeup call but most of Europe hit the snooze button.”
Grybauskaite warned that Russia’s aggression could lead to World War 3, as other countries in Europe are forced to defend themselves from Putin’s aggression.
“Lithuania, as other European countries, understands that peace has to be fought for, peace has to be defended, and independence and sovereignty are untouchable. Every nation has a right to have its own state and no one can dictate how it should live, regardless of whether a country is big or small. Hence we must clearly tell the current Kremlin and the current Russian leadership that such actions will never be tolerated.”
Other countries are picking up on the threats of World War 3 and trying to stop Russia by other means. The United States has led a round of economic sanctions, and at a meeting of the Group of 20 this week Canadian Prime Minster told Vladimir Putin to “get out of Ukraine.”