It’s important to beat Russian President Vladimir Putin on the battlefield in Ukraine, as international sanctions alone won’t work, former president of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite told CNBC.
“From the very beginning of the war, I [have] said that [Putin] only understands the language of strength, and he can be stopped [only] on the battlefield — not by sanctions,” she said on Wednesday.
“Sanctions [are] painful to all of us, and their [effect takes] longer; [the] effect on the battlefield is quicker,” she said, adding that NATO needs to provide Ukraine appropriate, fast and necessary equipment to make this war as short as possible.
Failing to do so will only prolong the war, she said.
She hailed NATO’s decision to label Russia a direct threat as a “huge step forward.”
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday in Madrid that the alliance will be adopting a new “strategic concept” for the first time in over a decade to make clear its support for Ukraine.
“We’ll state clearly that Russia poses a direct threat to our security,” Stoltenberg said ahead of the announcement on its strategic blueprint.
“We will be changing everything, starting from [reorienting our] defense plans to defend [every] inch of our land everywhere on the border,” Grybauskaite told CNBC “Capital Connection” from Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital.
Earlier in June, Lithuania — a member of the European Union — banned the transit of some goods like steel and ferrous metals coming from Russia to its exclave Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea.
The move raised tensions significantly, and prompted a flurry of angry retorts from Moscow which denounced it as unlawful.
“We are not afraid of it,” she said referring to Russia’s threats to her country.
Referring to NATO’s new stance on Russia, she said: “We have been asking for such changes in after the occupation of Crimea in 2014. But it was very difficult to persuade our partners. But now, Putin [himself] has persuaded [them].”
“We are ready to go [ahead] very seriously,” the former Lithuanian president said, adding that these steps were necessary “yesterday.”
“Thank God we will have them today,” she added.
Grybauskaite also said China, as an economic giant, cannot be ignored.
“We need to learn how to live with [China], how to influence [it] and how to protect ourselves, but that’s a lot of nuances,” she said.
At his press conference, Stoltenberg also said the Alliance’s strategy document will address China for the first time, as well the”the challenges that Beijing poses to our security, interests, and values.”
— CNBC’s Holy Ellyatt contributed to this report.