Recent events have created a sense of urgency within the U.S. foreign policy establishment to update its strategy towards Russia. The Baltic states are seen to be particularly vulnerable and because of its NATO commitments and its history of underwriting security in the region, the U.S. is under pressure to develop an appropriate response. Policy and research institutes—or think tanks—are an important part of the U.S. foreign policy establishment, and given the influence they often have on American foreign policy, it is sensible for any student of Baltic security to evaluate the think tanks’ current perspectives on the viability and desirability of U.S. security commitments in the region. To that end, this article evaluates the outputs of twelve prominent U.S. foreign policy think tanks according to the views they expressed across four general groupings of issues: positions on U.S. grand strategy, perceptions of Moscow’s intentions and capabilities, assessments of NATO’s heath and its value to U.S. security, and the level of commitment to, and assessment of, the security vulnerabilities of the Baltic states. The findings dispel a common misperception that U.S. foreign policy think tanks are generally shifting towards a realist perspective on the Baltic states; they generally do not support U.S. retrenchment, most consider Russia as having revanchist motives, and as a whole support bolstering the defences of NATO’s easternmost flank. However, it would also be an exaggeration to conclude that the U.S. think tank community overall were staunch defenders of the Baltic states, as for many there is a prevailing inattentiveness to Baltic security issues.
As the Ukrainian crisis unfolded and the West declared sanctions against Russia, the country’s political elite returned to the rhetoric typical to its foreign policy tradition about Asia as a counterbalance to Europe and the U.S. Contrary to the previous stages, this time recognition of Russia’s objective strategic and economic needs allowed for a genuine breakthrough in the relationships with the region that had increasingly become central to international politics and economics. However, Russia had first to deal with the long-standing problems of its “Eastern vector”, the primary of which continued to be the dependence of its “Asian politics” on China. This article attempts to evaluate the correspondence between the goals proclaimed by Moscow’s foreign policy makers in Asia and the actual results achieved throughout the research period of 2014 to 2016 inclusive, with particular focus on its fundamental objective to thus gain more room for manoeuvre on the global and regional levels of international politics.
Routinely, people, who have, over the past five years, travelled to Western Asia to settle, are being referred to, in the Western popular discourse, as ‘foreign fighters’. Though, admittedly, many among them did join various armed groups, a rather significant part of them did not or even could not have become members of armed groups. This is first of all true of children who travelled with their parents but also young females, in the Western popular parlance pejoratively called ‘jihadi brides’. However, even these categories aside, those (young) men who did join armed groups in Syria and Iraq, though they may be identified as ‘fighters’, may also not be regarded (and certainly many among them do not see themselves) as ‘foreign’. As the overwhelming number of people who travelled to West Asia joined the Islamic Khilafa State (IKS), their status in the entity is more of ‘naturalized citizens’, whose naturalization process is epitomized in the joining of the armed forces of the Islamic Khilafa State. Those, who did not (or could not) join the IKS armed forces, became citizens through pledging allegiance to the khalifa (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) and by performing what they themselves regard as compulsory hijra – relocation from the lands of unbelief to the land of Islam under the declared khilafa. The khilafa project initiated by the Islamic State is a unique phenomenon, not only from the point of view of the theories of international relations but also in respect to the classical notions of state formation and nation building, and puts the conceptualization of citizenship in a new light. As such, it poses new challenges not only from the perspective of narrow military security but also from a much broader one, particularly, to the countries, among them European, the citizens of which forsake their original social contracts for a new one.
The presence of NATO troops in the Baltic states has increased in the last years due to changing international environment, increased level of potential risks and threats, and necessity to enhance deterrence in the region. As a result of NATO’s Wales and Warsaw summits decisions, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are entitled to host a battalion size battle group. The article aims at investigating how host nation support (HNS) can contribute to the national defence and, additionally, to the self-defence capabilities of the Baltic states. The concept of HNS is present in the national defence concepts of all three countries. However, its active application and utilization started in the last two years. The article argues that more intensive incorporation of an HNS system in national defence policies serve the capability development in fields like national military logistics, infrastructure, and civil-military cooperation. Those capabilities can serve as an extension of the national defence.
One of the distinctive features of Russia’s confrontation with the West over the 2014–2016 period is the intensification of Russian propaganda both in foreign countries and within the state. Lithuania, whose relations with a major neighbour were not normalized, and which openly supported Ukraine’s position, attracted the additional attention of Russian mass media in which an incitement to anti-Lithuanian moods was bolstered. In this case, it is endeavoured to generally describe how the mass media (television and newspapers) played a role in contriving a social construct and ascertain the Lithuanian quantitative characteristics which are presented in Russian mass media. Referring to the analysis, one can distinguish three prevailing negative images of Lithuania – that is, Russophobic and anti-Russian; a falsifier of history; and a failing and non-influential state. These images, being consistently and purposefully exploited in Russian information space, almost with no alternative sources, turned into undeniable truth for the majority of Russian citizens. This provides the Kremlin with vast possibilities of manipulation in constructing the tactics and strategy of geopolitical instability. On the other hand, one should not forget that such a negative picture of Lithuania serves as a way in which Russian society justifies Putin’s political system and demonstrates its superiority over the values of the Western world.
The Kaliningrad issue has always been part of several contexts of Lithuanian foreign policy and security assurance. That is why it is significant to look at what relationship models Lithuania has tried to implement with Kaliningrad and what opportunities and threats it has created for Lithuania. This article analyses the Kaliningrad factor, which became apparent during Vladimir Putin’s rule, in Russia’s relations with Lithuania, the EU, and NATO, and assesses the aspects of both “hard” and “soft” security. We argue that it is important to consider what Kaliningrad Oblast means to Russia, what role it plays in its foreign policy, how it is changing and what the dynamics of the EU and Lithuania’s relations with Kaliningrad has recently been, and what the possible and desirable scenarios of Lithuania’s cooperation with Kaliningrad could be.
This article presents the development of modern Lithuanian military diplomacy, the future priority trends, and examines the features of service organizations. It is demonstrated that organizing military diplomacy is a totality of political provisions, encompassing the preparedness of the Lithuanian officer corps, activity support and supply chain, and the position of a military diplomacy organization in a system of national diplomacy. According to the author, the scope of military diplomacy is determined by the provisions of political leadership of the national defence system on the implementation of Lithuania’s foreign policy in the defence sphere, as well as by the extent of representing departmental interests in similar systems in foreign countries. The article presents the specifics of military diplomacy and that of officers’ service within allied (NATO) or EU countries and the peculiarities of service in other states often displaying pugnacious interests to Lithuania. The author sets forth arguments concerning the priorities of military diplomatic representation in the mid-term, and concludes that the significance of military diplomacy, in light of recently developing trends of an international framework, will further expand whereas fully-fledged diplomacy will be incapacitated to function without qualified military advice.
A case study of Lithuania as an EU energy island is conducted in the article. For this purpose, the description of an energy island in the EU as a phenomenon is set forth, and its characteristics are identified and explicated. The performed study showed that in 1990–2009 Lithuania corresponded partially and in 2010–2013 fully to the characteristics of the EU’s energy island, whereas the Russian Federation, as a dominant energy supplier, abused the circumstances, executed a coercive energy policy, thus posing threats not only for energy but also for economic and national security. However, in 2015, having constructed alternative electricity and gas supply routes and established market conditions in the energy sector, Lithuania reached a turning point and pulled away from energy dependency on Russia. Lithuania is to be regarded as a good case of the EU energy island to study.