Russian charge d’affaires to Lithuania Sergey Ryabokon faces a deadline to leave the country today. Ryabokon’s expulsion was ordered following
Russian charge d’affaires to Lithuania Sergey Ryabokon faces a deadline to leave the country today.
Ryabokon’s expulsion was ordered following his comments diminishing the “Bloody Sunday” events during Lithuania’s struggle for independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991, which saw the Soviet military openly attacking Lithuanian civilians.
Today’s expulsion is a continuation of rapidly deteriorating Lithuanian-Russian relations, which only months prior saw the expulsion of Russia’s ambassador to Lithuania following revelations of the Russian military’s potential crimes against humanity in Bucha, Ukraine.
Russia’s Foreign Ministry has responded to Ryabokon’s expulsion by ordering the expulsion of Lithuania’s charge d’affaires ad interim and reserving the right to take further retaliatory measures. Nevertheless, Russia’s tepid response signals an unwillingness to dig too deep into the Soviet Union’s history.
Expect Russia to elect yet another charge d’affaires which holds similar revisionist views of the Soviet Union’s collapse like Ryabokon and President Vladimir Putin. The elevation of the USSR’s collapse as a tragedy and the diminishment of its crimes against its satellite states are part of President Putin’s larger narrative for rebuilding the empire, and therefore a foundational principal in legitimizing his invasion of Ukraine. Thus, Lithuanian-Russian diplomatic fracturing will likely continue for the foreseeable future.