Lithuania is “one of the poorest and smallest” countries in the European Union, says Ian Birrell in the I newspaper. But it’s far braver than other Western democracies at standing up to Russia. “Inspired by dark memories of Soviet communism”, the country promotes human rights in Russia and offers sanctuary to Belarusian pro-democracy protesters. All the while, Russian troops carry out intimidating military exercises, “practising for invasion”.
Even more remarkable is Lithuania’s “refusal to be cowed by China”. Bear in mind that this is a country with a population roughly the size of Greater Manchester. Yet its leaders have met the Dalai Lama, backed the Hong Kong protests and labelled the atrocities against the Uighurs in Xinjiang as a “genocide” – all to the enormous displeasure of Beijing. Lithuania has even provoked China over Taiwan, allowing the island nation to open up a “representative office” under its own name in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. It has partly backed down on that, with Lithuania’s president describing the decision as a “mistake” following Beijing’s block on imports of Lithuanian goods. But in this “David and Goliath struggle” between a small liberal state and the world’s biggest dictatorship, Lithuania deserves our “unflinching support”.
🇹🇼🍸 To thank the country for its backing, Taiwan has set up a £148m fund to buy up Lithuanian goods banned by China. This week, the Taipei government shared cocktail recipes with the public after snapping up 20,400 bottles of Lithuanian rum.
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