Today I bring you a juicy diplomatic catfight between the representatives of two neighboring nations: Lithuania vs Russia.
In this corner: The husky Balt, Linas Antanas Linkevičius, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the great nation of Lithuania. Aside from his political CV, which shows him rising steadily within the ranks of Lithuanian/EU/NATO type institutions, Link’s biography is fairly thin, which indicates either that (1) his life is boring, or that (2) he is highly discrete. We know that he was born in 1961, which makes him 56 years old. Physically, he sort of let himself go, although he was lucky enough to keep his hair. The other thing we know about him is that he is a member of the so-called European Leadership Network, which looks to be a rogues gallery of Deep State, Euro-style. Thus nicely fitting in with Awful Avalanches’s arcing early-summer theme of geo-political conspiracies and unaccountable actors!
Aside from that, Link is a virulent Russia-hater, to the extent that he would readily use NATO as his personal army and air force against Russia. If he could.
In the other corner: Russian Ambassador to Lithuania, Alexander Ivanovich Udaltsov. I can’t find an English-language bio of him, but here is his Russian wiki. Sasha was born in 1951, making him 10 years older than Link and actually at retirement age. Still, he looks to be in better shape, with an angry slab for a face, a shock of white hair, and pugnacious mien. This is a guy who has seen a lot in his time, and fought a lot of battles.
Udaltsov graduated from Moscow State University in 1973, with a degree in History. He proceeded straight to diplomatic work while also acquiring his post-graduate degree at the Diplomatic Academy in 1985. He has worked in various diplomatic posts in both Soviet and post-Soviet times, including ambassadorships to nations such as Slovakia and Latvia; and now also Ambassador to Lithuania. He is married, with a son and a daughter.
Udaltsov is the scion of a diplomatic family, his father Ivan Ivanovich Udaltsov was the Soviet ambassador to Greece, back in the day. Ivan also served in the Soviet army during World War II (1940-45), which makes Alexander Ivanovich eligible to march in the “Immortal Regiment” every year; even though his dad survived the war (obviously) and went on to work in the Soviet Foreign Service. The dad, by the way, lived to a ripe (for that generation) old age, dying in 1995 in Moscow, at the age of 77.
Meanwhile, we don’t know anything about Link’s papa , or which side he fought on during the war; one can presume, the Soviet side, but one never knows. Here is Link’s Lithuanian bio, which is almost as thin as his English one, only adding the one personal detail that he is married (wife Danguolė) and has two daughters, named Aušra (“Dawn”) and Eglė
(“Spruce”). Both apparently being common names for Lithuanian girls. The name Eglė in particular having mythological connotations, as the heroine of a Lithuanian folk tale. Here is the basic gist of the story, which I “borrowed” from wiki:
A young girl named Eglė has 2 sisters and 12 brothers. One day she discovers a serpent in her clothes after bathing with her sisters. Speaking in a human voice, the serpent agrees to go away only after Eglė pledges herself to him in exchange for his leaving the clothes, not realising the possible consequences. Three days pass, and thousands of serpents come for the bride, but are tricked by her relatives each time. A goose, a sheep and a cow are given instead but the cuckoo warns about the deceit. Enraged serpents return for a final time and take Eglė with them to the bottom of the sea to their master.
Instead of seeing a serpent, Eglė meets her bridegroom Žilvinas, a handsome human – the Serpent Prince. They live together happily and bear four children (3 sons and a daughter), until Eglė decides to visit home and her husband denies her permission. In order to be allowed to visit home, Eglė is required to fulfil three impossible tasks: to spin a never-ending tuft of silk, wear down a pair of iron shoes and to bake a pie with no utensils. After she gets advice from the sorceress and succeeds, Žilvinas reluctantly lets Eglė and the children go.
After meeting the long lost family members, Eglė’s relatives do not wish to let them back to the sea and decide to kill Žilvinas. The three boys are threatened and beaten by their uncles, in order to try to disclose how to summon their father; however, they remain silent and do not betray him. Finally, the frightened girl-child discloses the method.
The twelve brothers summon Žilvinas the Serpent from the sea and kill him using scythes.
The worried Eglė calls her husband, but unfortunately only foams of blood return from the sea. When Eglė discovers that her beloved is dead, as a punishment for betrayal she turns her children and herself into trees – the sons into strong trees, an oak, an ash and a birch [’cause, see they stood up to torture], whereas the daughter was turned into a quaking aspen [’cause, see, she snitched on her dad]. Finally, Eglė transformed herself into a spruce.
With that backstory out of the way, and now that we know the contestants, it is time to return to our catfight. The gist being that Link says Russia owes his country money; and Udaltsov saying, no, it’s the other way around!
[to be continued]