Sharing a border with the strategically important Russian territory of Kaliningrad, Lithuania as a NATO member has assumed greater geopolitical significance since Russia's invasion of Ukraine. And as a member of the European Union, Lithuania's increasingly strained relationship with China also provides an important litmus test for EU-China relations.

A country of 2.8 million in the Baltic region, Lithuania recently drew Beijing's ire after breaking with diplomatic custom by agreeing that Taiwan's office in its capital Vilnius would bear the name 'Taiwan' instead of 'Taipei'. In response, China downgraded its diplomatic relationship with Lithuania, forcing Vilnius to repatriate its diplomats from China, and implemented an effective trade embargo against Lithuanian goods.

Although clearly not a party to the dispute, Australia has requested to be included in the WTO's consultation process, since it too has been a target of China's attempts at economic coercion. Lithuania's first embassy in the 31-year history of bilateral ties opened in Canberra in February 2022.

How has the Russian invasion of Ukraine altered European security? What role does Lithuania have to play? How should nations such as Lithuania and Australia cooperate on strategic challenges, and stand up to economic coercion from China?

In the next instalment of our Meet the Ambassador series, AIIA Victoria invites you to join HE Mr Darius Degutis in conversation with former foreign correspondent Jim Middleton.

This event is open to all and will also be streamed online via Zoom. Registrations close on Monday 20 June at 3pm AEST, after which you will receive a follow-up email containing details of how to join the Zoom webinar. The webinar will commence at 5:30pmAEST (Melbourne time, UTC+10) and conclude at 6.30pm.

AIIA Victoria gratefully acknowledges the Walter Mangold Trust Fund for its ongoing support of our young members.


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