Europe is investing in defense in ways that were 'unimaginable' before Russia invaded Ukraine, Lithuanian PM says

Europe is investing in defense in ways that were 'unimaginable' before Russia invaded Ukraine, Lithuanian PM says
  • Lithuania's PM said Europe is boosting defenses in ways that were unthinkable before the Ukraine war.

  • But she told BI that Europe must do more to protect Ukraine and grow its defenses against Russia.

  • Ingrida Šimonytė said European countries should be spending and manufacturing far more.

Many European countries are boosting their defenses in ways that were not on the cards before Russia invaded Ukraine, Lithuania's prime minister told Business Insider.

In fact, Ingrida Šimonytė told BI that European countries "are doing things that were unimaginable" before the conflict.

But, she said, Europe should have increased its defense spending "long ago."

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has sparked a surge in defense spending and agreements across Europe, as countries moved to support Ukraine while boosting their own arsenals, worried Russia could attack elsewhere in Europe.

That has been particularly true with Lithuania and its Baltic neighbors Latvia and Estonia, which all border Russian territory and are EU and NATO member states.

Šimonytė gave the example of her own country getting a permanent brigade of troops from NATO ally Germany.

"It was unimaginable we would agree on placing a full brigade on permanent basis in eastern flank," she said. The Baltic countries are often referred to as NATO's eastern flank.

Šimonytė also said that European countries are all "rushing up and beefing up our capacities and spending."

In 2021, the year Russia invaded Ukraine, total defense spending by the 26 European Defence Agency member states rose by 6% year on year. And it has kept growing since.

Two European countries have also sought to join NATO, with one, Finland, now a member.

But Šimonytė said Europe should have increased defense spending "long ago," and she noted that many European countries still do not meet the NATO target of 2% of GDP being spent on defense.

Lithuania's own defense spending has soared, with the country budgeted to spend 2.75% of its GDP this year.

Lithuania has been one of Ukraine's most vocal backers, and Šimonytė said its allies need to give it even more support.

She said Ukraine can win, but victory depends on outside support.

House Republicans are stalling further US support, and many European countries say there is little weaponry left to give, with the continent's manufacturing unable to keep up with demand.

"Ukraine needs real artillery, real vehicles, real guns, and armor," Šimonytė said, adding: "Unfortunately you cannot shoot money, you cannot fire the euros or dollars."

Šimonytė said European countries spending more on defense would also send a very clear signal to industrial players, that they "can actually count on contracts from their governments to expand their production facilities and to replenish the stocks that are very much worn."

She said that if Russia "is not stopped in Ukraine, then whatever happens next is Europe's problem at large."

Europe can't just think that if something happens "it's the US that would sort that out," she added.

Read the original article on Business Insider