Conscripts will not be sent to foreign missions, Lithuanian defence chief assures

Vytautas Jonas Žukas
DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

Chief of Defence of Lithuania Major General Jonas Vytautas Žukas said the Russian media has recently started disseminating false information that the Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian brigade project could become a pretext for sending conscripts to Ukraine.

“I would like to refute that information. The Lithuanian army has no intention of sending conscripts to any international operations outside Lithuania, and the LITPOLUKRBRIG project stipulates that troops from the trilateral brigade would hold joint training events and exercises,” the chief of defence said.

According to the general, if the Lithuanian Seimas backs the reintroduction of mandatory military service bill, conscripts will be trained under a special military training programme at army units in Lithuania and moved to the army’s trained reserve following mandatory service.

“I would also like to respond to public statements that in case of military aggression against Lithuania, conscripts would allegedly become „cannon fodder”. They would not be sent to the front lines since they would not be fully prepared to act as part of a military unit. They would receive such training following the 9-month-long mandatory military service. And they would only be used for state defence in case of mobilization,” Žukas told BNS via his spokesman Captain Mindaugas Neimontas.

In the latter’s words, residents of Visaginas, a town in northeastern Lithuania with a large Russian population, “have recently started asking journalists whether conscripts will be sent to fight in Ukraine”.

On Wednesday, the Lithuanian government backed the restoration of conscription. The issue will be soon considered by the Seimas.

If the Seimas gives the green light, around 3,000 young men, aged 19-26, will be conscripted this year.

State and army leaders believe that conscripts are needed to fill military units and prepare a reserve in response to Russia’s aggression. Critics say partial conscription might increase social inequality, divide the society and make it more difficult for young men to find employment following mandatory military service.

Lithuania ended conscription in 2008 and it may be reintroduced in response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

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