Washington must not lose sight of Russia as the United States switches focus on China, the Baltic foreign ministers told Newsweek in an interview.
"While addressing one challenge, let's not forget about another," said Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs. "Otherwise one morning we are going to wake up with a very unpleasant surprise, and then we will be again trying to understand who missed what."
The interview comes amid mounting diplomatic tensions between Vilnius and Beijing, which has recently recalled its ambassador over Lithuania’s decision to host a “Taiwanese” embassy. Beijing considers it as an attempt to recognise the island nation, which it considers a breakaway province.
Lithuania Deputy Foreign Minister Mantas Adomėnas said "Russia is a short- to medium-term threat that is extremely important”, but adding that “the systemic challenge to our democratic way of life which comes from China is something that cannot be ignored."
"The US should keep strong strategic attention focused not just on one point across the Pacific, but also in the east of Europe," Adomėnas said.
Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets told Newsweek that the continued US focus in Eastern Europe was a priority for Tallinn.
"Our focus at the moment is very much on NATO, and the NATO strategic concept that would assess the current security situation properly and provide working methods for the organization to couple with this security situation," she said.
Last week, Estonian Institute of Foreign Relations researcher Frank Jüris told ERR if the world's great powers pivot to focusing on China and pay less attention to Russia it will make Estonia and the Baltic region less secure.
"Inevitably, our security situation would deteriorate and weaken as a result," he said.