US official’s visit to Lithuania to conclude

US official’s visit to Lithuania to conclude Photo: Petras Malukas/AFP/Getty

US Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose Fernandez’s visit to Lithuania ends today.

Accompanying Fernandez were senior officials from the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM), who together with Fernandez discussed the implementation of a recently signed $600 million US-Lithuania memorandum of understanding with Lithuanian officials.

This major influx of American money into Lithuania comes during a diplomatic crisis in the country’s relations with China, which has pressured multinationals to sever ties with Lithuania following the opening of a Taiwanese embassy there and other anti-China moves. The two are likely connected: Fernandez cited support for Lithuania’s “value-based foreign policy” as a reason for the signing of the memorandum.

A shift emphasizing relations with the increasingly anti-China West in Lithuanian foreign policy is not surprising. However, it has less to do with any antipathy toward China than a practical assessment of Lithuania’s best interests. With the recent Belarusian-sponsored refugee crisis on Lithuania’s border and increasing aggression from neighboring Russia, closer ties to other NATO states are essential to Lithuanian national security. Good relations with China are increasingly a liability in strengthening those ties, so do not expect Lithuania to back off from this confrontation.

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