Friday

13th Dec 2019

Lithuania to re-introduce military conscription

  • Dalia Grybauskaite: "We must reinforce the country's defence capacities" (Photo: U.S. Army Europe Images)

In the wake of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, Lithuania on Tuesday said it would take steps to reinstate basic military conscription for the next five years.

"We must reinforce the country's defence capacities. Under new geopolitical circumstances, the army must be properly prepared for the country's armed defence even in times of peace," Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite said following a meeting of the state defence council.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

The compulsory military service would apply to men aged 19-26 years, with the aim of drafting up to 3,500 a year.

The defence council's decision has to be approved by the parliament, but there remains main uncertainties over how conscription will be implemented.

Linas Kojala, an analyst at the Eastern Europe Studies Centre, sees it as positive that Lithuanian politicians start paying attention to the country’s military capabilities.

Talking to EUobserver, he points out that there are currently only about 12,000 battle-ready soldiers in the country, when double would be needed to form a functioning army.

“Half-empty battalions will be filled with conscripts. This is the only possible viable solution in the short term”, he says.

But he notes the political decision is just the beginning.

“There is a lack of details about how to make the system transparent, how to avoid corruption by those who want to avoid military service, and, most importantly, how to maintain the military as a source of attraction for young people.”

With military conscription abolished only in 2008, the country has been discussing whether its re-introduction signals that there is a real danger from Russia which annexed Crimea last year and has soldiers in eastern Ukraine.

According to Deividas Slekys from the Institute of International Relations in Vilnius University the decision was not a surprise.

“It was definitely to be expected as politicians and military representative have been talking for several months about what to do if there are not enough volunteers for the army,” he told public radio.

He noted that making compulsory military service temporary will help get the votes needed to pass the law in parliament.

“Conscription never causes any euphoria. A five-year limit is like a sweetener for talking with the public”, Slekys added

Jonas Vytautas Zukas, chief of defence, noted that training conscripts would cost only half of what it would cost to train professional forces of a similar size.

But critics have pointed out that a bigger number of conscripts does not necessarily equal a small group of professional soldiers.

Meanwhile analyst Kojala also notes that Lithuania – a Nato member - only spends 1.1 percent of GDP on defence. The military organisation has repeatedly called on its members to spend at least 2 percent of GDP.

Lithuanians back euro amid Russia tensions

Lithuania on Thursday is adopting the euro with a majority now supporting the currency change amid heightened tensions with their former Russian masters.

Lithuania's odd couple keeps nation guessing

The new prime minister Saulius Skvernelis and his leader from the Peasants and Greens party Ramunas Karbauskis were the suprise winners of last month's elections. But what they want to do is still unclear.

Chemnitz neo-Nazis pose questions for Germany

UN human rights commissioner urged EU leaders to condemn violence that recalled the 1930s, but the local situation in former East Germany does not apply to the whole country.

Former Malta opposition leader fears for his life

Simon Busuttil spent 10 years as an MEP before returning to Malta to lead the opposition. He now fears for his life amid probes into high-level corruption in Malta's government.

News in Brief

  1. UK exit poll gives Johnson majority of 86
  2. Orban: 'financial guarantees' to reach climate neutrality
  3. Merkel hopes EU leaders agree 2050 climate-neutrality
  4. Czech PM: nuclear energy needed for climate neutrality
  5. Hungary: Climate target is burden, EU should help
  6. Malta PM urged to step down ahead of EU summit
  7. France rolls out new pension scheme amid protests
  8. Germany accused of aiding war crimes in Yemen

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. EU leaders cagey on 'Future of Europe' conference
  2. Pressure mounts to grill Malta's Muscat at EU summit
  3. Revealed: little evidence to justify internal border checks
  4. Europe needs to make mind up on relations with Africa
  5. Leaders face crucial EU summit for climate action
  6. Leaders to battle on climate target and money at summit
  7. Von der Leyen: 'Green Deal is our man-on-moon moment'
  8. North Atlantic mini states in geopolitical turbulence

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us