As Lithuania Seeks Further European Union Alignment, Russian Aggression Remains High

By Kyle Herda

Impunity Watch Reporter, Europe

VILNIUS, Lithuania – In what may be a move of defiance against Russia, Lithuania is moving to the Euro. This comes in light of recent events over the past several months involving Russian aggression directed towards a number of NATO countries, particularly Lithuania and other Eastern European nations.

Major Linas Pakutka stands before two of his units within Lithuania’s new task force. (Photo courtesy of The New York Times)

Lithuania has only 6% of its population who are Russian speakers, despite the much higher percentages in many bordering countries and also its proximity to Russia. Even so, Russia continues to show aggression that has found some landing in Lithuania. The waters off Lithuania have seen recent Russian military exercises just off Kaliningrad that have involved up to 9,000 troops and 55 ships.

In addition, NATO has had to scramble jets to intercept Russian aircraft over 400 times this year, already more than three times the amount as last year. The number of instances involving Russian jets flying with their radars off and coming close to commercial airlines continues to increase as well and has many worried that a mid-air collision is imminent. This is all in addition to the Russian incursion in Eastern Ukraine and the questionable Russian annexation of Crimea in Southern Ukraine earlier this year.

While not obligated to defend Ukraine from a military invasion due to the lack of protection for Ukraine under Article 5 membership, NATO has answered Eastern Europe’s worries about Russia by creating a rapid response task force should Russia invade a country near Ukraine with Article 5 membership that requires military aid. For Lithuania, however, this new task force is taking too long to take effect, and so Lithuania has created its own fast response task force. While Lithuania’s active military of roughly 8,000 does not size up well to Russia’s military of over one million, Lithuania would like to be prepared to respond within a day of any Russian invasion of the Baltics, Poland, or Romania. “We would go into action in the initial, self-defense phase to buy some time until NATO can get here,” says General Tamosaitis.

Even a Lithuanian archbishop has spoken out about the Russian threat to Lithuania, fearing that “the front could move forward if the international community fails to stand firm.” Archbishop Gintaras Grusas further went on to say that “the information and propaganda war which preceded the military action against Ukraine is very much underway here, too.”

For more information, please see:

Reuters – Russia growls across the border as Lithuania readies for euro – 21 December 2014

The New York Times – Ukraine Crisis in Mind, Lithuania Establishes a Rapid Reaction Force – 19 December 2014

Catholic Herald – Lithuanian archbishop fears Russia attack on Baltic states – 16 December 2014

Business Insider – Lithuania’s Military Is On Alert After Russian Activities In A Baltic Sea Exclave – 10 December 2014

Reuters – Lithuania may supply weapons as part of military aid to Ukraine: minister – 26 November 2014

Author: Kyle Herda

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