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In August six years ago, as everyone's eyes were on Beijing Summer Olympics, Russia invaded Georgia. Military actions between the two countries were short, but they have gained more significance since then as many now see the conflict as dress rehearsal for Russia's annexation of Crimea.
Valdas Adamkus in 2008
Valdas Adamkus in 2008
© Vida Press

Back in 2008, Lithuania's then President Valdas Adamkus said in an interview to the German daily Suedeutsche Zeitung that Russia's actions in Georgia were part of a much bigger ambition to reclaim influence in the former Soviet zone. Following the military campaign in Georgia, Moscow would turn its gaze to Crimea, the Baltic States and South Caucasus, Adamkus said.

"If loonies in Russia decided to occupy our country, they could do it within minutes," according to Adamkus.

"I think, Crimea will be first, then the former zone of influence in the Baltics and finally South Caucasus," the then Lithuanian president speculated in 2008.

He added, however, that the world could resist such ambitions. According to Adamkus, he had spoken about the "new cold war" some six months before, but "was criticized for that internationally".

He said Russia was not "doing anything to show that we live in the 21st century and wish for a global, integrated, peaceful world instead of looking back at the tragic 20th century".

Questioned by the German reporter whether Georgia and its then President Mikheil Saakashvili were nothing but victims in the conflict, Adamkus replied that President Saakashivili was "no saint".

"But he merely protected what belongs to his people and he acknowledged that his sovereign state had been provoked," according to Adamkus.

"One man's actions should not determine the fate of a nation. The principles of freedom, territorial integrity are a basis for decisions that might not seem acceptable to everyone. There might have been alternative ways to reach a goal, but as long as fundamental democratic and human rights are not violated in pursuit of freedom and independence, the mistakes that do happen can be forgiven," President Adamkus commented on whether he approved of all the actions by Georgia's Saakashvili.

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