The Baltic states are facing a real threat and must be prepared to independently withstand for at least three days in case of a military conflict until NATO allies arrive, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė said on Wednesday in Kaunas, Lithuania's second-largest city, when asked by foreign journalists about the planned restoration of conscription in Lithuania.
Dalia Grybauskaitė
© AFP/Scanpix

"We had conscription before 2008, and we thought that it will never be necessary. But with a changing geopolitical situation around our borders, we realized that the threats are very real. The threats are real for our whole region, all Baltic states, and our neighbourhood has become less predictable and more aggressive, I mean Russia," Grybauskaitė said.

The president also mentioned the recent increase in Russia's military activity in the Kaliningrad region, in the Baltic Sea and in the air where Russian military planes pose threat to civil aviation.

"We know the procedures in NATO. The rapid reaction forces can start to work at least from 72 hours. But our nations in the Baltics are quite small. We need to protect ourselves at least for these 72 or more hours," she said.

The president also called the reintroduction of conscription a clear message that, if attacked, Lithuania would not surrender and would defend itself.

An informational war is being waged against the Baltic states and they come under cyber attacks, she added.

"Already we are in the front line, and the first stage of confrontation is taking place: I mean the informational war, propaganda and cyber attacks. So we are already under attack. Will it be extended to conventional confrontation? Nobody knows. But already now we need to defend ourselves from this aggressive behaviour," the Lithuanian president said.

Speaking to Lithuanian journalists, Grybauskaitė underlined that Lithuanians must defend their country.

"How can you or I, or we, Lithuanians, can ask, for example, a Danish or a German to come and defend us in case of a threat, and somehow we ourselves don’t want to do that? It's our constitutional duty," the president said.

The recording of the president's interview was given to BNS by the presidential press service.

Earlier in the day, the Lithuanian government backed a bill drafted by the Ministry of National Defence on the restoration of conscription. In Defence Minister Juozas Olekas' words, the conscription of 19- to 26-year-olds should start in August or September. Lithuania plans to conscript around 3,000 men every year.

BNS
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