What you need to know:
The Lithuanian State Defense Council announced a 3-year support plan for Ukraine for 2024 to 2026 that will consist of approximately 200 million Euros (222 million USD) that will focus on “acquisition of lethal and non-lethal aid, military training and courses, financial contributions to assistance funds, repair of military equipment in Lithuania and personnel training.”
Why it matters:
Lithuania, who also borders Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave, Belarus, and has faced threats from Moscow over their support of Ukraine, has been one of the more outspoken supporters of Kyiv’s war efforts. As some European nations begin to rethink the long-term effects of supporting Ukraine’s counteroffensive on their own economy, NATO member Lithuania has redoubled its efforts, spending almost 500 million Euros (554 million USD) so far.
Lithuania has also been concentrating on it’s own national security infrastructure. According the State Defense Council’s official statement, the new programs are expected to “transition the Armed Forces to a new level of quality.” Vilnius has also raised defense spending for 2023 in a government resolution by 97,548,000 Euros (108 million USD), making their total GDP percentage going towards the military 2.52 %.
Behind the numbers:
“Rendering assistance to Ukraine is and remains one of the priority areas. The reimbursement for assistance to Ukraine under the European Peace Facility (EPF) is planned to be used for defense needs to keep the pace of national capability development and further use the finance in assistance to the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas stated.
The round up:
Lithuania, along with other NATO members on the alliance’s eastern flank, have taken significant measures to increase material support for Ukraine with not only their old Soviet-era weapons but also more modern weapon systems. Additionally, they have also pledged to meet or exceed the 2% of GDP guideline set out by NATO.
Membership in Lithuania’s armed forces as well as volunteer units has soared, with some reporting waiting lists to undergo training as long as 2 years. Vilnius, having already reinstituted conscription after Russia’s 2014 incursion in Crimea, is expected to receive and train an additional 4,000 citizens this year.
Lithuanian border towns have seen people moving to the capital of Vilnius or more secure places in the country and away from the Russian or Belarusian border regions for fear of a potential clash. Following Lithuania’s implementation of European Union sanctions and a cessation of imports across its borders, the Kremlin vowed a swift response to what it called “hostile actions.”