Sympathy for the victims of imperialism is a noble sentiment. But I am puzzled that Labour’s new leader feels this so keenly when Asia, Africa and Latin America are concerned, but seems so unaware of the past, present and future of imperialism on the European continent. Lithuania has in living memory experienced imperialism through occupation, linguistic and cultural oppression, the destruction of civil society and public institutions, rape, looting, deportation and mass murder. The perpetrators of these crimes have not been punished. Nor has Russia, the successor state to the Soviet Union, apologised or paid compensation. Instead it praises our oppressors as heroes and justifies Stalin’s destruction of half of Europe as geopolitical necessity.
This is not just a historical injustice; the Kremlin continues to menace its former victims – countries which it should treat with especial sensitivity and respect. It has invaded Ukraine and Georgia, seizing territory and creating puppet states. It wages economic warfare against neighbouring countries, and runs a venomous propaganda campaign portraying them as failed, fascist and friendless. Russia’s fast-modernising military rehearses conventional and nuclear attacks against Nato allies.
Jeremy Corbyn says nothing about this. Instead he blames us for trying to defend ourselves. Our countries were not, as he seems to believe, forced or lured into Nato as part of an American global power grab. We were pounding on the door of the alliance, demanding to be let in, because we feared that Russia might one day become what it is now: a threat. Those of us in Nato are delighted that the alliance is now fully engaged in our territorial defence, and we are delighted and grateful that Britain is taking a leading role in this. We are glad for our part to contribute to the security of the UK – in cyber-defence, strategic communications, energy security, intelligence, counter-terrorism, combatting organised crime, and with other capabilities.
I invite Mr Corbyn to visit my country, to see the progress we have made since recovering our sovereignty after the fall of the evil empire, and the threats that we face from its successor. We would welcome his sympathy and support as our citizens try to regain the legality, liberty, dignity, security and prosperity so cruelly taken from us in the past, and which people in the United Kingdom are so fortunate to enjoy.