Lithuania To Reintroduce the Draft

Despite the very low chance of a Russian invasion of Lithuania, mainly due to its membership to NATO, the Lithuanian government will reintroduce mandatory military service for young man.

Having said that, the Lithuanian Parliament still have to approve the mandatory military service of men between 19 to 26 years old.

The Lithuanian military forces is now consisted of  about 15,000 troops, a drop from 39,000 troops prior to their membership to NATO in 2004. However, the newly reestablished draft will enlist up to 3,500 men every year.  Drafted young man will then serve for a period of 9 months.

At this time, the Lithuanian Armed Forces is composed of 7,890 regular and 4,445 reserve soldiers. Another 2,280 civilians are under the Armed Forces command.

Lithuania currently has no tanks, a few working M113s and a virtually nonexistent Air Force. However, the Lithuanian Armed Forces is currently undergoing a major modernization that should bring in armoured vehicles and new infantry fighting vehicles.

Lithuanian soldiers training
Lithuanian soldiers training

Kalinigrad – A vital Oblast for Russia’s defence

Last December, Russia carried out a military drill featuring more than 9,000 soldiers and 55 warships in the Russian enclave of Kalinigrad—an exercice that made the Baltic States rethinks their current military strategy.

Lithuania is strategically placed between Russia’s mainland and Kalinigrad making it a practical target for Putin’s expansionist policy. Crimea is one example of his willingness to take back Soviet-era occupied regions. The proxy war presently waged in Eastern Ukraine could very well be the type of strategy Putin is considering against NATO-backed Lithuania.

Kalinigrad could be linked back to Russia’s mainland through Belarus, one of Russia’s key ally in the region. Kalinigrad is vital for Russia due to its Voronezh radar installation in Pionersky, Kalinigrad Oblast.

Russian Voronezh Radar Installation
Russian Voronezh Radar Installation

The Voronezh radar was deemed fully operational in 2014 and can detect incoming missile up to a range of 4,200 km (2,610 miles). It is the only serviceable radar Russia has in the region and is used as an early warning system against the surrounding NATO countries.

In addition, S-400 Triumf surface-to-air missile systems and short-range 9K720 Iskander ballistic missiles have also been deployed in Kalinigrad.

Russian Aircrafts Probing the Lithuania’s Airspace

Russian fighter aircrafts and strategic bombers have also been extensively testing the Baltic State airspaces. More than 400 intercepts of Russian aircrafts were made by NATO ships in the Baltic States alone.

On December 8 2014, the Toronto Sun reported that two Canadian CF-18 Hornets intercepted three Russian aircrafts—two transport and one bomber training aircrafts—in the Lithuanian airspace. Four Canadian CF-188 Hornet fighter aircrafts were stationed in Siauliai, Lithuania from September to December 2014 under Operation REASSURANCE. Russian Tu-95 Bear have also been flying many reconnaissance missions near NATO members airspace.

Canadian CF-18 Hornet & Polish F-16 patrolling the Lithuanian Airspace.
Canadian CF-18 Hornet & Polish F-16 patrolling the Lithuanian Airspace.

Since Lithuania is a member of NATO, they have the right to call in an Article 5 if they get attacked. In fact, the NATO Article 5 clearly stipulates that: “Article 5 is at the basis of a fundamental principle of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. It provides that if a NATO Ally is the victim of an armed attack, each and every other member of the Alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the Ally attacked.”

Lithuania is spending about $518-million USD on Defence in 2015 – 1.11% of its GDP. Special Operations Forces Squadron “Aitvaras” was deployed in Afghanistan under Operation Enduring Freedom. They have also contributed—and led—a Provincial Reconstruction Team in the town of Chaghcharan in the province of Ghor.

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Jonathan Wade, CD

Jonathan Wade is the director of the ‘The Sentinel Analytical Group’ and a decorated veteran of the Canadian Forces. Specialized in tactical, strategic, intelligence and geopolitics analysis, Jonathan has a fondness for technical details. His military experience brought him valuable insight on the realities of conflicts and war. A combat veteran of Afghanistan, Jonathan brings in in-theatre experience. Jonathan writes about Russia, Canada and Arctic.