WHAT LITHUANIANS THINK ABOUT THE SAFETY IN THE BALTICS? On the 24th February many of us woke up to the news alerts about horrific Russian attacks on innocent Ukrainian people. Knowing full well the brutality of our big neighbor in the East, Baltic states immediately united to collect aid, organize protests and try to call to the consciousness of the West. And we will keep doing it till the last Russian soldier leaves Ukrainian territory! However, being in rather close proximity to the aggressor, we were seen as the next target. So it's not a big surprise that many people got scared and canceled their long planned trips to the Baltics. So we would like to clear some things before you throw away your holiday plans! Here are the answers to the most popular questions. Feel free to share it with your friends.
YES. Lithuania is a part of NATO, the strongest military alliance on the planet. Today the Baltic states' security is even more increased. Lithuania’s sky is protected by NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission. It involves a continuous presence - 24 hours a day, 365 days a year - of fighter aircraft and crews ready to respond quickly to possible airspace violations. We were always aware about the ever-increasing threats from Russia and acted accordingly.
Absolutely yes. Since regaining independence 32 years ago, Lithuania has worked very hard to build a resilient economy, ensure the rule of law and develop safe and reliable tourism infrastructure. Do you think that big international hotels like Hilton, Kempinski or Radisson would still operate here if Baltic states were in imminent danger? Or did you hear about international airlines canceling all flights to Lithuania? No! So you can still book your flights and choose the most comfortable hotels for your stay. And don't worry, tour companies are operating here just as fine.
Lukashenko keeps proving that he is only capable of becoming a meme... And if his goonies are able to beat the living hell from unarmed civilians in the streets of Minsk, it doesn't mean they are adept at attacking well trained and alert Allied forces.
Is it fear for his/hers own safety, or for the lives of his/hers friends or even family in Ukraine? So many of us have connections in Ukraine, we are also welcoming war refugees in our homes, schools and workplaces. And we hear first hand experiences of atrocities being committed every waking hour. So Lithuanians are definitely emotional and angry. But now these emotions translate into the biggest crowdfunding campaigns for much needed military drones for Ukraine! So don't mess with lithuanians. We know how to buy drones now.
Do you know our favorite NATO article? It's Article 5, which clearly states: "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". To put it simply - if you mess with one of us, you mess with all of us. Over the last two years, roughly 8 thousand allied soldiers from nine NATO allies have served in NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) in Lithuania on a rotational basis. These forces form part of the biggest reinforcement of NATO's collective defense in a generation.
Let them bark. it's not like we haven't heard that before. That's why for the last 32 years we have done our homework to ensure our national security. Did you hear that Lithuania has become the first country in the EU to disconnect entirely from Russian gas supplies? Or that Lithuania currently ranks 6th globally in the National Cyber Security Index and leads an international cyber rapid response team that assists the key EU institutions?
So the more they fantasize about rebuilding the former Soviet Union, the more material for memes we have!
We hope we answered your biggest concerns so the next time someone asks "wait, aren't you afraid to travel to Lithuania/Latvia/Estonia?" you can say "Of course not and neither should you!"
All the best,
Vilnius with Locals team