Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March 2014 and the subsequent war in Eastern Ukraine shocked the Baltic countries. Lithuania in recent years more than doubled its defense budget in order to be able to stand against a potential attack.
Vilnius — defense Minister of Lithuania Raimundas Karoblis (Raimundas Karoblis) during our meeting with him on Monday morning at the Ministry of defence described the security situation in the region as very difficult.
“The annexation of Crimea and the Russian attack in the East of Ukraine testify that we have now is a completely different world order in which the Helsinki agreement that national borders must be respected, more work,” he said.
“As we know, President Putin said that the Baltic States should belong to, or at least to submit to the Russian influence, and that he considers the collapse of the Soviet Union and the loss of the Baltic States as the greatest Russian tragedy of the twentieth century, and this puts us in a very unpredictable situation. In addition, we see that Russia’s military might in the region grows.”
Lithuania as well as Estonia and Latvia, a NATO member since 2004. Raimundas Karoblis approves increasing defense Alliance presence in the region.
“We have never had here as many allies security guarantees has never been stronger,” he says.
At the NATO summit in Warsaw in July last year, it was decided that NATO would send in the three Baltic countries and Poland four battalions of approximately one thousand soldiers each.
In the fifth paragraph of the NATO Treaty States that an attack on one member state will be regarded as an attack on the entire Alliance. Therefore, all members of the Alliance have a commitment to protect each other, including by military means, if necessary.
But in July, the President of the United States Donald trump, whose election campaign was then in full swing, in a famous interview for the New York Times said that the US will not necessarily be to support one of the NATO countries were attacked, if it “had not fulfilled its obligations”, namely not raised the defense spending of the country to 2% of GDP.
“It was said during the election campaign. In February, when the NATO defense Ministers met in Brussels, we were assured that the United States supports NATO’s collective defence”, says Raimundas Karoblis and adds that the US contribution to NATO is disproportionately large, contributions of Lithuania on defense made two-percent level next year.
This year the country’s budget on defense is given to 723,8 million Euro, i.e. 1.8% of GDP. It 402 million euros more than in 2014. The measures on strengthening the defense is the return of the universal obligatory military service in 2015.
In Rukla, a small town with just over two thousand inhabitants, which is half an hour drive to the North-West of Vilnius, the military presence, in contrast to the capital, significantly. Travels everywhere military transport and in grocery stores in search of food can be seen a German soldier of NATO and the Lithuanian military.
The Colonel placed motorized infantry brigade Duke Vaidotas (“Iron wolf”), Eugenijus Lastauskas (Eugenijus Lastauskas), says that the current recruits are getting a very different education than the previous generation. Before Russia seized control of Crimea, military exercises were aimed at preparing soldiers for peacekeeping missions in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq.
“Now the purpose of the exercise is to practice the defense of their country, to act together with our allies and to kick the aggressor out, preserving their integrity. Reservists must understand that our homeland is worth protecting, it is worth it to die for her to be killed for her.”
For slightly more than 6% of Lithuanians Russian — native language. The speaker of the Russian language Gordon Tretiak (Tretjak Gordon) voluntarily applied to serving military service after he graduated in high school last spring.
“I love my country. I do not want war, do not want to fight against other people, but I’ll do it if I have to. No matter what language you speak. I was born in Lithuania, he lived all his life in Lithuania and I want to spend here in this free country, the rest of my life,” he says.
Lithuania — a NATO member since 2004
Conscription abolished in 2008, but re-imposed in March 2015. Now it lasts nine months and for men-Lithuanians from 19 to 26 years. Today 3.5 thousand people depart military service.
There are plans in 2020 to make military service universal, in this case, it will cover seven thousand men. Women can serve voluntarily.
In 2014 the defence budget of Lithuania reached 0,89 % of GDP. This year the defense went 1.8% of the GDP in the next this figure is expected to be of 2.07 %.