LONDON, United Kingdom â€“ Lithuania was not forced into NATO by the US but instead joined in the face of Russian imperial â€œmenaceâ€ according to the country’s Ambassador to the UK. Asta Skaisgiryte comments came as the British opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn renewed his opposition to Britain’s membership of the trans-Atlantic alliance.
Mr Corbyn has been a long opponent of NATO and claimed its purpose is â€œwarmongeringâ€. He said its expansion into former Soviet countries like Lithuania after the fall of the USSR was â€œUS imperialismâ€.
Before becoming Labour leader he claimed the alliance was not about self-defense but instead an â€œattempt to encircle Russiaâ€. He went on to claim angering Putin’s Russia by protecting Baltic states like Lithuania and Latvia was â€œone of the big threats of our time.â€
Hitting back in a letter to The Guardian Newspaper, Mrs Skaisgiryte described the â€œrape, looting, deportation and mass murderâ€ that took place under the Soviets as more than a â€œhistorical injusticeâ€ because Russia still threatens its neighbours.
She praised Corbyn’s desire to oppose imperialism but said: â€œLithuania 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.
â€œThe 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 Stalinâ€™s destruction of half of Europe as geopolitical necessity.
â€œThis is not just a historical injustice; the Kremlin continues to menace its former victims â€“ 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. Russiaâ€™s fast-modernising military rehearses conventional and nuclear attacks against Nato allies.
â€œJeremy 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.
â€œThose 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.â€
Her comments were welcomed by Eastern European policy analyst Daniel Hamilton. He told Townhall.com: â€œFor more than thirty years, Corbyn has given succor to terrorists and extremists â€“ yet has been oddly quiet when it comes to standing up to Russia.
â€œHis intransigence towards the right of democratic nations in Eastern Europe to enjoy self-determination, stability and human rights is almost as perplexing as his public support for Hamas and Hezbollah.
â€œCorbynâ€™s anger ought to be directed at the ongoing Russian occupation of Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova â€“ not the NATO structures that keep us all safe.â€
Mr Corbyn has been written off as a fringe extremist by some but he will be Labour candidate for Prime Minister at the 2015 General Election. He is behind in the opinion polls but has only been leader for a matter of weeks and took the job despite being 200/1 at the bookies.
A record 250,000 Labour Party members voted for him and a further 50,000 have joined its ranks since he became leader. The Prime Minister David Cameron has described Corbyn as a â€œthreat to National Securityâ€.