On 11-12 July, Ukrainian World Congress (UWC) President Paul Grod visited the Lithuanian capital, where he worked on the sidelines of the Vilnius NATO Summit, meeting with key international and local politicians and the Ukrainian community and its leaders in Lithuania.
The visit of the UWC leader, representing over 20 million Ukrainians worldwide, was intended to demonstrate support for Ukraine in its aspirations to become a full NATO member and to convey to NATO member states’ political leaders and experts the desire of Ukrainians to obtain effective security guarantees for Ukraine.
On the Summit’s first day, Paul Grod met with the Minister of Defense of the Kingdom of Sweden, Paul Johnson.
“We discussed the future of the Swedish-Ukrainian security system and continued support for the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” summarized the UWC President. He also congratulated Sweden on unblocking the process of its accession to the North Atlantic Alliance.
Paul Grod discussed the international support for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the work of allies for a joint victory, the current needs at the front, and the great opportunities ahead for the Ukrainian military with the Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom Ben Wallace and Minister of Defense of Ukraine Oleksiy Reznikov.
On the sidelines of the NATO Summit in Vilnius, Paul Grod had the opportunity to meet with the Prime Minister of Lithuania, Ingrid Šimonite.
The UWC Leader sincerely thanked Ms. Prime Minister for the solid economic support for Ukraine in these difficult times. Lithuania is one of Europe’s leaders in economic and military support for Ukraine in terms of percentage of annual GDP.
Together with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Zbigniew Rau, Paul Grod discussed the future of the Ukrainian diaspora in Poland. The UWC Leader expressed gratitude for Poland’s steadfast support for Ukrainian internally displaced persons and strong cooperation in the international arena.
The Russian War Crimes exhibition revealed to the guests that since February 2022, Russia has committed about 113,000 war crimes. The event, intended to draw the attention of NATO members to Russian crimes in Ukraine during the war, began receiving guests on the eve of the summit.
The Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal, and the Speaker of the Lithuanian Parliament, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, attended the exhibition’s opening.
In gratitude for their steadfast pro-Ukrainian position, Paul Grod awarded Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen and a Lithuanian Parliament member, Emanuelis Zingeris, with commemorative distinctions.
The UWC President also thanked Mr. Zingeris for his powerful initiative to send an open letter from the leaders of the Lithuanian Jewish community to U.S. President Biden calling for granting Ukraine full membership in a defense alliance.
Paul Grod and the UWC Regional Vice President, Vira Konyk, held a fruitful and informative meeting with a long-standing friend of Ukraine, Marius Janukonis, Director of Strategic Management and Analysis at Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The parties discussed the rapid deterioration of the security situation in the region due to the growing political instability in Russia, current challenges and threats, and the role of Ukrainian communities in countering Russian disinformation in the Baltic States.
Paul Grod also visited the Ukrainian Center for Forced Refugees from War – Ukrainos Centras, founded by First Lady of Lithuania Dalia Nausėdienė and First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska. There, the UWC President met Ukrainian children and the center staff.
Paul Grod met with the Ukrainian community on the eve of the opening of the Vilnius summit, where he delivered a powerful speech. “I am convinced that Russia will fall. The question is when and how many losses Ukrainians will suffer,” emphasized the UWC leader during the rally. The UWC President also held a traditional meeting with the Ukrainian community in Lithuania, dedicated to supporting Ukraine in the most difficult times in recent history.