On April 17-21, 2023, an intense and productive visit of the Ukrainian delegation to Lithuania took place. It happened at the invitation of NGO LDK Palikuonys (“Descendants of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania”), who since 2014 have been actively helping Ukraine, in particular, Azov, and every month keep bringing powerful humanitarian aid to the Ukrainian units.
You may learn more about this cooperation in the video story by Marius Zaremba on the state Lithuanian TV channel LNK: https://lnk.lt/kk2-top/191613
On the Ukrainian side, the delegation was assembled by Olena Semenyaka, the head of NGO Intermarium Support Group, assistant to MP of Ukraine Sviatoslav Yurash, the founder of the Intermarium Caucus of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, and the trip itself was made possible thanks to NGO Association of “Azovstal” Defenders’ Families and the Patronage Service of Azov, as well as the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine. It was her, as the organizer, who put the conceptual architecture of the visit under the banner of the Intermarium Caucus of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, the launch of which was also discussed at the Seimas of Lithuania with partners and which was only welcomed by all involved.
LDK Palikuonys met Sviatoslav Yurash during one of their winter visits to Kyiv and agreed on further cooperation. The activities of the youngest member of the Verkhovna Rada in the history of Ukraine, who, a year ago, facilitated the visit of the wives of the then still captured heroes of Azovstal to Pope Francis and recently launched the Western Regional Center of the Coordination Headquarters for the Treatment of Prisoners of War of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, are highlighted in another video on LNK: https://lnk.lt/kk2-top/194268
As part of the intensive work programme by LDK Palikuonys, members of the delegation spoke at the Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania, the General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy in Vilnius, General Povilas Plechavičius Cadet Lyceum and the Vytautas the Great War Museum in Kaunas, as well as held meetings with military personnel at NATO bases, made a number of agreements with parliamentarians and businessmen, and recorded a plenty of interviews with journalists. In addition, the members of the delegation met with representatives of the Embassy of Ukraine in Lithuania, spoke at a regular rally in support of Ukraine in Vilnius and held a meeting with the Lithuanian youth. The visit mostly took place in three cities of Lithuania: Vilnius, Kaunas and Klaipeda.
The delegation included: Ruslan Serbov, veteran of Azov, defender of Mariupol, who flew by helicopter to the fully blocked city, Vitalii Skidan, veteran of the ATO/JFO and the battles for Kyiv, in particular, near Bucha and Vorzel, representative of the Patronage Service of Azov Natalia Bahrii, representative of the Association of “Azovstal” Defenders’ Families, whose husband is still in captivity, Kateryna Plechystova, Natalia Yepifanova, head of NGO Voiatskyy Vyzvil (The Warriors’ Liberation), lawyer, who, in particular, deals with POWs of the military unit 3057, and as co-organizers, Oleksandr Chupryniuk, the serviceman of the SOF of Ukraine, the head of the charitable foundation “Charity for Ukraine,” and Olena Semenyaka as the “ambassador” of the Intermarium Caucus of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine.
It was Oleksandr Chupryniuk who was the first member of the delegation to meet Gediminas Armonavičius, the head of LDK Palikuonys, at a rally in the Taras Shevchenko Park in Kyiv, which grew into a great and fruitful cooperation: from participation in the solemn opening of the reconstructed bunker of the Forest Brothers in Vilkija to the visit of a Ukrainian delegation of 30 people to Vilnius on the Lithuanian Independence Day. LDK Palikuonys is a public organization that is engaged in the development of the historical memory of Lithuania and whose representatives, in particular, Kęstutis Markevičius received the highest state awards for their contribution to the latter. In 2018, he also described these activities at the annual international conference of the Intermarium Support Group, and in the spring of the same year, LDK Palikuonys symbolically planted over 2,000 Lithuanian oak trees in Khortytsia, the cradle of the Ukrainian statehood, in memory of the fallen defenders of Ukraine. In addition, the activists of this organization are members of the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union, Lithuanian Territorial Defense and the successor of the Forest Brothers.
More details about the delegation’s composition and the goals of its visit to Lithuania, which were voiced by its members with different emphases depending on the audience which they addressed.
Its lion’s share consisted of the representatives of the Patronage Service of Azov (Natalia Bahrii, who raised a range of issues related to the main areas of her activity, namely rehabilitation, the dignified burial and commemoration of the dead, as well as the exchange of prisoners, assistance to ex-prisoners and families of the military) and the Association of “Azovstal” Defenders’ Families (Kateryna Plechystova, the rehabilitation coach from Mariupol whose husband at the time of visit was still in captivity, Azov veterans Ruslan Serbov and Vitalii Skidan, who also represents the Patronage Service as its former “ward”) dealing with matters of liberation and exchange of the captured defenders of Mariupol and Azovstal, informing the world about their feat, as well as legal, financial and recreational support for the veterans of Azovstal, ex-captives and their families.
We would like to thank Olena Tolkachova, head of the Patronage Service of Azov, and Kateryna Prokopenko, the founder and the mastermind of the Association of “Azovstal” Defenders’ Families, for facilitating the trip and delegating their representatives.
Natalia Yepifanova, lawyer, head of the Voiatskyy Vyzvil, in particular, dealing with the POWs of the 12th brigade of the National Guard of Ukraine of the Mariupol Garrison, shared Kateryna Plechystova’s focus on the search for efficient help from the Lithuanian MPs, MEPs, government officials, and through their mediation the world community to liberate the Ukrainian POWs, inform the world about Russia’s violation of the Geneva Conventions and, in general, the inhumane conditions of their detention in de facto concentration camps, where the sick, including cancer patients, do not receive treatment, as a result of which they often die, not to mention the frequent use of torture by the occupiers.
Another problem that ran through their speeches as a leitmotif was the inaction and even sabotage of their duties by the relevant international bodies, primarily the UN, in whose leadership the Russian Federation still exists, and the Red Cross. This was especially emphasized by Kateryna Plechystova, recalling that the exit of the defenders of Mariupol from its last Ukrainian bastion, the Azovstal plant, took place under the conditions of extraction, that is, their transfer until the end of the war to the territory of a neutral country such as Turkey, where the command staff of the Azovstal Harrison is currently located. The UN and the Red Cross, which guaranteed compliance of the Russian Federation with this procedure, did not fulfill their obligations in any of the formats. This careless attitude has already led to the tragedy in the Olenivka colony, where over fifty Azov soldiers were burned with explosives, for which the Russian Federation blamed Ukrainian missiles, and over 600 Azov soldiers are still in de facto captivity without any contact with their relatives and friends. Kateryna emphasized that Azov servicemen have become the hostages of Russian propaganda, which fabricates their image to justify its act of military aggression and terrible war crimes in Ukraine as a “military operation for denazification.” We would be happy to perceive as a sign of the effectiveness of efforts like ours the fact that on May 6, for the first time in long months of exchanges which contained not a single Azov soldier, the Russian Federation returned 45 servicemen of this unit to Ukraine.
One of them, Yevhen Chudnetsov, a soldier of the Azov Regiment, now of the Azov Brigade of the NGU, the defender of Mariupol, was released from captivity for the second time. For the first time he was captured in 2015 as part of the Azov Battalion at that time during the Shyrokynska Operation, and was exchanged in 2017. Now the period of adaptation and rehabilitation by the Patronage Service of Azov and the Association of “Azovstal” Defenders’ Families will follow, but the methods of the Russian occupiers are hardly significantly different from those he revealed at the presentation in Kyiv of reports on torture and other military crimes of the Russian Federation in Donbas at the event of the Intermarium Support Group and the “Military Brotherhood of the Unbowed” shortly before the full-scale invasion. We would like to remind you that these reports for the Criminal Court in The Hague were prepared by the Vice-Speaker of the Polish Sejm Małgorzata Gosiewska and MEP Anna Fotyga, who currently continue collecting evidence for the upcoming international tribunal on Russian war criminals.
Natalia Yepifanova, confirming and supplementing the facts of torture and abuse of POWs from Kateryna Plechystova’s presentation, reminded that, in addition to the Azovstal Garrison and the 12th brigade of the NGU, over 10,000 Ukrainian servicemen are in captivity of the enemy, and all of them are waiting for their quick release from these inhumane conditions. Undoubtedly, this is an element of planned war crimes committed by the Russian Federation against civilians, which in this case consists in intimidation of the Ukrainians and putting pressure on relatives of POWs. Besides, Natalia reminded of an even greater number of civilian prisoners and abducted persons, in particular, children, amounting to over 20,000 people. She urged not to keep silent about these facts and to voice the full scale of the problem in order to put more efficient and decisive pressure on the aggressor.
Natalia Bahrii elaborated on her work experience and explained the functionality of the Patronage Service of Azov – a rear structure unique to the entire Ukrainian army, which effeciently puts soldiers back on their feet, supports ex-POWs and families of the military, as well as carves the names of the fallen into the official pantheon of the Ukrainian history after completing the necessary steps to receive the bodies of the dead and carry out procedures for their identification along with forensic services. In her speeches, she emphasized that apart from rehabilitation programs for the military personnel and veterans and recreation for servicemen’s families, the Patronage Service was looking for military psychologists to take care of the mental state of combatants, as this specialty was still far from developed in Ukraine.
Ruslan Serbov and Vitalii Skidan, honorable combatants who did their absolute best in difficult and unequal encounters with the enemy, survived amputation and continue standing on guard for Ukraine’s freedom, shared with the Lithuanians their unique experience of the defense of Kyiv and Mariupol.
Vitalii Skidan “Boyko” is the Azov volunteer since 2014, when he was 18, the participant in the 2015 Pavlopil-Shyrokynska offensive operation, during which, despite Minsk, Azov pushed the Russian invaders away from Mariupol, having prevented them from shelling its peaceful quarters again. Back then, he has already been seriously injured, and in the battles for Kyiv, he was one of a small group of volunteers who, at the cost of superhuman efforts and human losses, having only small arms and grenade launchers, detained a Russian tank column near Vorzel heading to Bucha. It was then that he lost his leg above the knee as a result of being hit by a tank shell, but keeps acting as a representative of the Patronage Service of Azov, which has been taking care of his rehabilitation.
Yet despite continuous shelling, the death of their comrades, several enemy assault attempts and a fire in the premises they occupied, they continued fighting back, at some point three of them shooting from one machine gun due to the injuries they received. Vitalii’s first thought after he regained consciousness in the hospital was about his friends who kept fighting for over 10 hours. The whole group has managed to evacuate only after they succeeded in contacting the Ukrainian artillerymen, causing fire on their own positions and thereby driving the invaders away.
We sincerely thank Vitalii for his intensive work in Lithuania despite the threat of the return of phantom pains and the far from completed optimization of the prosthesis – this example should be seen by the whole world.
Ruslan “David” Serbov is a volunteer of Azov and the Marine Corps, a defender of Mariupol and Azovstal, one of the 72 daredevils who took part in the special operation of the Main Directorate of Intelligence of Ukraine consisting in a helicopter flight to Mariupol, which was blocked by Russian troops, in order to deliver anti-tank equipment, medicines and volunteers themselves to help the comrades and evacuate the heavily wounded.
Ruslan’s stunning city battles filmed on GoPro and his own memoirs entitled “Mariupol. The Book of the Brave,” which can be ordered at @balls_of_steel.ua, are the most eloquent evidence of these feats.
The Lithuanians will hardly forget his stories about genocide of the civilians by the Russians in Mariupol, the indomitability of the fallen heroes, his effective destruction of the enemy and enemy equipment, the inhumane conditions in which the wounded in Mariupol were held, which he experienced firsthand after his foot has been cut off with an anti-tank missile while he was evacuating the wounded, and leaving Azovstal plant with his subsequent exchange as a heavily wounded person, which this “one way” special operation volunteer did not even think to consider in terms of captivity.
Oleksandr Chupryniuk, who also participated in the defense of Kyiv region and Zaporizhzhia, shared his own experience of facing Russian military aggression on February 24 in Kyiv and the following self-organization of his closest entourage to repel it. Issues of defense cooperation at various levels, exchange of knowledge and skills with the Lithuanian military structures and support for the Ukrainian front were the priorities of his visit with an official delegation from the Ukrainian Special Operations Forces.
Olena Semenyaka, as the coordinator of the visit, set the goal of launching the Intermarium Caucus in the Lithuanian Seimas in order to scale and sustain the implementation of these tasks and projects in the perspective of more global and long-term work on the Intermarium defense alliance of Central and Eastern Europe within the broader Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine and the states of the region.
In addition, all members of the delegation paid special attention to communication with the media, which covered in detail the aforementioned information in numerous reports about the exploits of Ukrainian defenders, war crimes of Russia, the condition of Ukrainian POWs and specific requests for help, in particular, based on the results of the press conference at the Lithuanian Seimas.
Special thanks should be expressed to Petro Beshta, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the Republic of Lithuania, and his colleagues for the meeting at the Embassy of Ukraine in Lithuania, the invitation to a regular rally in support of Ukraine in Vilnius, the opening of the press conference in the Seimas, and active support of the work of the Ukrainian delegation in Lithuania, as well as help with the implementation of its specific requests. Its participants, having just arrived in Lithuania, started activities already on April 17, speaking on Cathedral Square in front of Lithuanian friends of Ukraine and mass media.
It is very encouraging that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine provided comprehensive support to this experimental format of domestic “public diplomacy’s” work in Lithuania, for the first-person accounts by volunteers and soldiers who continue their public defense activities in Ukraine are the most convincing for a foreign audience. We can only hope that the idea of closer regional cooperation in all spheres, which has been de facto developing for a long time and has reached a new level after the beginning of the full-scale war of the Russian Federation, Intermarium, will soon become its official course.
On April 18, after a memorable tour across the halls of the Seimas, which contain dramatic chronicles of the Lithuanian people’s own struggle for independence from the USSR, the Ukrainian delegation’s members highlighted their experience of resisting Russian war criminals and outlined urgent problems and tasks at the press conference in the Seimas organized by LDK Palikuonys. Many thanks to Laurynas Preikša for this journey.
The speakers, who had specific messages and requests to the Lithuanian and world community, included the following delegation’s members:
Ruslan Serbov (“Azovstal – the invinciblity symbol of the Ukrainian resistance”), Vitalii Skidan (“Why Azov: from the battles for Mariupol to the battles for Kyiv”), Natalia Bahrii (“The Patronage Service of Azov as an innovative structure of the Ukrainian army for military-medical and -civilian cooperation”), Kateryna Plechystova (“Azov’s POWs as the hostages of the Russian aggressor’s war propaganda”), Natalia Yepifanova (“The problem of protecting the rights of POWs and their release (exchange)”).
Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anushauskas, Deputy Speaker of the Seimas Paulius Saudargas and his deputy Laura Gradeckienė, Chairman of the National Security and Defense Committee Laurynas Kasčiūnas, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the Republic of Lithuania Petro Beshta, former Chief of Defence of Lithuania General Arvydas Potsius and many other government officials and M(E)Ps were present at the event and promised active assistance. Special thanks to Andrius Navickas for moderating the discussion.
On this very day, the Ukrainian delegation continued its work at the General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania in Vilnius. The leadership, instructors and cadets of this legendary Lithuanian institution were interested in everything related to the course of the full-scale war in Ukraine.
After listening to the speeches of the Ukrainian military (Vitalii Skidan, Ruslan Serbov, Oleksandr Chupryniuk), representatives of the Patronage Service of Azov (Natalia Bahrii) and the Association of “Azovstal” Defenders’ Families (Kateryna Plechystova), the head of NGO “Voiatskyy Vyzvil” Natalia Yepifanova and the representative of the Intermarium Caucus of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Olena Semenyaka, they moved on to questions, first of all, from the command staff of the academy, who sought to adopt experience of the younger, but involuntarily more experienced Ukrainians in matters of direct confrontation with the Russian army.
The questions, only a general overview of which can be included in this report, concerned who played a more important role in deterring Russian aggression at the first stage of the invasion: the civilians or the military, the role of the fifth column in coming of the “Russian world” on the Ukrainian lands, the fate of public resistance to the occupation, such as in Kherson, etc. After all, the Lithuanians understand perfectly well that the situation that has developed especially in neighboring Latvia, where the Russian-speaking minority created artificially since the times of the Russian Empire in the capital Riga has already become the majority, opens up a wide field of possibilities for the “protection of the rights of Russian speakers” and the hybrid aggression of the Russian Federation in the “democratic” respect. Besides, they were interested in the phenomenon of Azov units: the role of leadership qualities, motivation, discipline, the historical military tradition, adoption of Western experience, etc. Natalia Bahrii, the representative of the Patronage Service of Azov, commented on the specific requirements and selection mechanisms for Azov, too.
Having agreed with the unique role of the Ukrainian voluntary and civil resistance, which broke the plans of Russia, Olena Semenyaka, who visited various front-line zones, i.a., as part of the humanitarian missions of Sviatoslav Yurash, the founder of the Intermarium Caucus of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, considered it her duty to emphasize that a number of cities could have remained under the control of Ukraine, had it been possible to neutralize the collaborators in the city authorities in time, as well as on the importance of asymmetric responses, military-civilian methods of struggle and proactive information work. She also emphasized the importance of public demonstration of video and other evidences of Russian war crimes, which would help both to prepare a Lithuanian society for possible threats and to legitimize measures for the enhanced development of territorial defense, military exercises and control over potential collaborators.
Once again, many thanks to LDK Palikuonys for the invaluable experience of defense cooperation with the Lithuanian military elite in real time.
On April 19, the Ukrainian delegation continued its work in Kaunas.
In the morning, it attended the exhibition of military equipment transferred from the Vytautas the Great War Museum to VI Kaunas Fort.
The fortress city of Kaunas is surrounded by a dozen lines of defense and fortifications built to protect the borders of the Russian Empire on the eve of the First World War. During the Second World War, due to the development of military technologies and the degradation of the code of military honor, which accompanied the ideologization of war in the 20th century, forts were often used by the Soviet and the German military-political machines to hold and execute the POWs and the civilians. The VI Kaunas Fort also contains echoes of those events, as does the Lysohirsky Fort in Kyiv, the tunnels through the hills of which were immediately remembered by the Ukrainian guests.
Azov veterans, participants in the battles for Kyiv and Mariupol, which affected primarily the civilians and unfolded in objects of industrial and civil infrastructure, in turn, did everything possible to convey to the military and the public of Kaunas the full extent of the further degradation of the methods of warfare at the hands of Russia, which is de facto carrying out the open genocide of the Ukrainian people.
We thank the organizers for an interesting excursion and a good example of how to care for the territory and condition of such important historical monuments.
It was there that the Ukrainian delegation got acquainted with the motorcycle club of the Lithuanian army “Perkūnas MCC”, the headquarters of which, as the organization that is far from an ordinary biker community, is located on the territory of the VI Kaunas Fort. Putin’s “Night Wolves” would hardly wish to meet them on the road.
On the same day, after their speeches, the veterans of Azov received commemorative gifts from Laurynas Kasčiūnas, the head of the Committee of National Security and Defense of the Lithuanian Seimas, who attended their meeting with the teachers of the General Povilas Plechavičius Cadet School.
It was Laurynas Kasčiūnas who reacted in time to the hybrid aggression of the Lukashenka regime, which organized the migration blackmail of the Baltic States and Poland on the eve of the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine – quite possibly, in this way, finding out the weak links in the state borders of the region’s countries. On his initiative, a protective wall was also erected along the Lithuanian border with Belarus.
Laurynas Kasčiūnas has already made several trips to the Ukrainian front-line cities and de-occupied territories, having seen with his own eyes the scale of Russian war crimes and the heroism of the Ukrainian army. Finally, as the architect of Lithuania’s national security and defense policy, he is also convinced of the need for closer security cooperation between the countries of the region, lobbying for the development of which on behalf of the Intermarium Caucus of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine was one of the main goals of Olena Semenyaka’s visit to Lithuania at the invitation of LDK Palikuonys.
The General Povilas Plechavičius Cadet School, as well as the General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy, was remembered for its warm welcome and ubiquitous displays of solidarity with Ukraine, as well as the workshop for weaving camouflage nets for the Ukrainian units.
The Ukrainian delegation listened to a presentation of the work and structure of the Cadet School aiming for adopting this experience in Ukraine. We hope to develop the dialogue in the near future – from setting goals to their gradual implementation.
Then the working visit continued at the Vytautas the Great War Museum in Kaunas, where the unique exhibition “For the Freedom of Ukraine! Forever Free Ukraine” was transferred from Kyiv after the beginning of the full-scale invasion by the Russian Federation. It contains original artifacts (equipment, uniforms and flags) of the fighters for the Ukrainian statehood in 1914-23 of the last century (the UNR, the ZUNR, the Hetmanate and the Directorate).
Apart from the echoes of the common historical past with Lithuania within the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the members of the Ukrainian delegation were especially impressed by the halls dedicated to the liberation revolutions, in particular, the leaders of the January Uprising against tsarism: Kastuś Kalinoŭski, Antanas Mackevičius, Zygmunt Sierakowski, who were finally honored this year by the presidents of Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine, contributing to the revival of the historical memory of the Intermarium, the struggle of the Lithuanian partisans and the Forest Brothers, the pioneer Lithuanian pilots of the transatlantic flight on the “New York-Kaunas” route Steponas Darius and Stasys Girėnas and many others.
We thank deeply the director of the museum, Rita Ilgakojyte, for the extraordinary reception, the unforgettable meeting with the public of Kaunas after the tour and everything that regularly happens in the museum in support of Ukraine.
Summing up the speeches of the Ukrainian delegation at the Vytautas the Great War Museum in Kaunas, which was overcrowded thanks to LDK Palikuonys, Olena Semenyaka underlined the connection of the common historical memory and the future.
First, she mentioned that the Ukrainians had nothing to explain to the Lithuanians – they came to join forces and lean on the friendly shoulder of the Lithuanian people, so that they would be heard faster and more effeciently in the West, cutting off and blocking Russian lobbies together. This includes arms, diplomatic sanctions against Russia, the release of the POWs and civilian hostages, and the international tribunal for the Russian war criminals.
“Bolshevism is an unpunished evil,” she continued, “and precisely the states and peoples of the Intermarium (Central-Eastern Europe), which experienced being under the heel of both totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, as well as the previous experience of Russian imperialism and Russification, have the historic mission today to hold a “Nuremberg tribunal” over Ruscism-Neobolshevism and to build a military-political bloc of the Intermarium within the framework of, or even in parallel with, the broader Euro-Atlantic integration of Ukraine into the EU and NATO (an example of such a union in miniature is LITPOLUKRBRIG), which would ruin the historical background of Russian imperialism. After all, the current Russian war against Ukraine, the region and Europe is not just the war of weapons and mobilizations; this is the war of historiographies and historical narratives, and namely around the common historical memory of the region a solidary informational and military front, defense and counteroffensive of Ukraine and other states under threat of Russian invasion should be built”.
Besides, Olena Semenyaka spoke about her journey from the head of NGO Intermarium Support Group, born in the Azov movement, to the assistant of MP and the founder of the Intermarium Caucus of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine Sviatoslav Yurash, who is currently working on launching similar parliamentary groups in the countries of the region. And also how, making regular trips to the front and near-front areas with humanitarian missions, she realized that she should pay no less, if not more, attention to international cooperation, where it is much more difficult to find a replacement for her many years of work and organizational capabilities.
A pleasant surprise, although actually a regularity, was the visit of representatives of the Lithuanian patriotic youth to the event in Kaunas, because they were the first in Lithuania to popularize the idea of regional integration together with the Ukrainian activists of the Intermarium Support Group.
April 20, the Ukrainian delegation in Kaunas held meetings with representatives of the Union of Lithuanian Riflemen (Lithuanian territorial defense), to which LDK Palikuonys is directly related, and recorded thematic interviews, in particular, on the topic of public executions of Ukrainian soldiers by the Russian occupiers, the role of PMC “Wagner” in these crimes and the responsibility of the Russian high command for all atrocities against the Ukrainian military and the civilians.
In the evening, an equally important meeting of the Ukrainian delegation with the Lithuanian businessmen and journalists, who regularly and powerfully support Ukraine, in particular, Azov, took place in the iconic Kaunas hunting restaurant Medžiotojų užeiga. Lively interest in the requests of the front, our stories and testimonies, prospects for the course of the war and further joint work was very noticeable during the conversation.
They mostly work with a Western audience, where Russian influences are stronger, and the healthy instinct to protect the territory is weaker. “Would you like it if I raped your wife?”, according to them, including such arguments in communication with Western colleagues for whom the obvious things are not so clear-cut. We thank them for their help and principledness in the field contributing not only to economic pressure on the enemy.
April 21, the Ukrainian delegation, thanks to LDK Palikuonys, had a unique chance to speak before the military of one of the NATO bases in Lithuania. Seizing it, Olena Semenyaka continued developing the thought started at the meeting with the public of Kaunas, stressing that it was the time to proceed to direct constructive work on the Intermarium alliance face to face with those to whom it was addressed at that critical time – the military of the region’s countries.
She expressed special gratitude for the opportunity to raise these issues at the Lithuanian NATO base on the eve of the NATO summit in Vilnius, thereby emphasizing the legality of the gradual development of such a defense alliance in coordination with NATO. “Over time,” Olena Semenyaka clarified, “if the threat of military aggression by the Russian Federation is not eliminated, it may develop into a separate military-political bloc with the support of the United States and the UK, which is also open to membership in it, as Boris Johnson proposed when discussing the tripartite union Ukraine-Poland-Great Britain.
After all, there are already LITPOLUKRBRIG, the Lublin Triangle, the Bucharest Nine, Division North, the Three Seas Initiative, the Visegrad Four, the Northern Council, GUAM, the Eastern Partnership, etc., which either invite or include Ukraine in their composition, not to mention the forms of the International Legion in Ukraine, among them the Georgian and the Polish, which is being modelled after the latter.
In 2017, as the Ukrainian geostrategist Oleksandr Maslak (RIP) emphasized, the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus held joint military exercises, the legend of which consisted in an attack on them by Lithuania, Latvia and Poland, and the reaction to which included the scenario of capturing Kyiv. There is no need to explain to Poland and Lithuania the need for joint protection of the Suwałki Gap, which could connect the Republic of Belarus and Kaliningrad. Canada conducted many excersises together with the countries of the region at Yavoriv range in Ukraine, etc.”
Another important topic raised by Olena Semenyaka was the need to create structures for military-civilian, in particular, international cooperation in the army, overcoming the outdated division between civilian volunteering and the army rear services, which is not fitting to new challenges. After all, implementation of the idea, which so far has been unfolding in the geopolitical and parliamentary field (Intermarium Caucus and so on), should receive now an official military substantiation. As an example of the unity of the military and information fronts, she commented on the lasting opposition to her activities by Russian lobbyists in the West as “the leader of the extremist Azov movement”, which now threatens every Ukrainian and should obviously remain in the past.
“It is time to put it into practice what has been discussed for so many years. So go ahead, towards the new free Europe – Intermarium,” Olena Semenyaka concluded her speech.
As a result of the fruitful working visit of the Ukrainian delegation, apart from assistance in the exchange of the POWs, the launch of the Intermarium Caucus, and specific forms of defense cooperation, a number of agreements were reached, among them, Lithuania’s facilitation in obtaining the specialty of a military psychologist by those Ukrainian military who have already completed their service, admission of the soldiers of Azov Brigade and the 3rd separate Assault Brigade to treatment by rehabilitation centers and medical institutions of Lithuania, in particular, with the help of the Pagalbos Sparnas fund, and organization of children’s camps in Lithuania for the kids of wounded and fallen soldiers.
It is difficult to list all the historical excursions, museums and exhibitions which were attended by the Ukrainian delegation as part of the intensive programme of LDK Palikuonys in Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipėda, Vilkija and other Lithuanian cities. Thanks to this powerful organization, the visit of Ukrainian veterans, soldiers and fighters for the liberation of the POWs has been making headlines in Lithuanian TV channels, live broadcasts and mass media in general for at least a week.
Special thanks to the owners of Sadauskų sodyba! The choice of this extremely hospitable manor, in which Ukrainian guests were accomodated, and dozens of the Ukrainian refugees before, is not accidental. It was the members of this family who were deported to Siberia by our common enemy in the last century, and one can only rejoice in the fact that the Lithuanian authorities have returned once confiscated property to such families.
The week spent there in the circle of really kind and principled despite all their cordiality people will be remembered forever. The Nordic nature, air, thick and humid, as in the mountains, the forest nearby, ponds, wooden cottages and a delicious traditional treat – all of this is very similar to the image of the desired future after Ukraine wins the war.
We deeply thank LDK Palikuonys for the level of activities and the scale of the multidimensional interaction that is gaining momentum between Ukraine and Lithuania, and we hope that the horizons of building comprehensive Intermarium cooperation will soon receive a clear time frame and plan.
P.S. The next impressive show of support by our Lithuanian partners was not far off: at the Forest Brothers’ Day in Lithuania on May 21. A huge gratitude for solidarity to Vice Speaker of the Seimas Paulius Saudargas, who is known for his long-time support for the heroes of Azov and with whom our delegation met in Lithuania thanks to LDK Palikuonys, one of its masterminds Kęstutis Markevičius, who has just returned from Ukraine’s frontline zones, our fellow countrymen sharing their stories there and all who took part in this honorable commemoration uniting the Lithuanian and Ukrainian generations of fighters against the same enemy!
Група сприяння розбудові Інтермаріуму (ГСРІ) – заснована у Києві громадська організація і довгостроковий геополітичний проект, що з 2016 р. здійснює помітний внесок у регіональну інтеграцію на території між Балтійським, Чорним і Адріатичним морями у відповідь на російську агресію і глобальні виклики сьогодення.