In preparation for any possible tensions and armed action, Vilnuis is already taking steps to deter and respond to any military aggregation from Russia.
Perhaps, in a move that is more saber rattling than a true call to arms, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite has reinstated the draft to fill the ranks of their relatively small military of some 16,000 servicemen, reported International Policy Digest
The European Leaders Network recently reported that Russian provocations have increased in frequency and intensity against Baltic states.
Specifically, in response to Russian actions, the NATO Air Policing Mission has conducted at least 68 “identification and interdiction missions along the Lithuanian border alone.”
But why would Russia stand to win by mounting a hybrid war with any Baltic state?
The answer lies in the Kaliningrad strategic enclave and cold war remnant.
Cutoff from the Russian mainland by Lithuania, the oblast is a policymaker’s nightmare: poverty, unemployment are completely incapable of ensuring its economic viability, Kaliningrad serves solely as Moscow’s forward position in Europe.
Since Putin became president, the region has been placed in a state of constant military readiness. Moreover, for 2015, the Russian Defense Ministry plans to modernize and bolster the armed forces deployed in Kaliningrad. There are fears that the Kremlin could try to carve out a land corridor through Lithuania and link the oblast to Russia.
Fortunately, unlike Ukraine, Lithuania is a full-fledged member of NATO, granting them full-rights under the protocols of the NATO Charter, including protection under the concept of collective defense. NATO, to its credit, has clearly reaffirmed its dedication to this concept.
NATO allies have also proven willing to show their military strength in the Baltic region, holding a large military exercise, Operation Iron Sword 2014, in the forests of Lithuania. The exercise featured approximately 2,500 soldiers from the US, the UK, Canada, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, and Luxembourg. The exercise included improvised ground and air defense maneuvers.
Compared to Ukraine and other Baltic states, Lithuania has a much smaller and less influential Russian-speaking minority at 6.8% of the population.
In the near future, the fighting will continue to rage in Ukraine and NATO will continue to demonstrate its regional might and commitment to its Baltic members.