Lithuanians off to Ukraine: if we don’t stop Russia, we’ll soon see their tanks on our border

Lithuanian Volunteers off to Ukraine to fight.

On Monday, the volunteers left Lithuania for Ukraine, which has been attacked by Russia and is currently in the flames of war, to work as instructors: they will train the Ukrainian soldiers in the use of heavy weapons received from the West, as well as in the medical and other fields, Denisas Nikitenka wrote in

In total, about 30 Lithuanians, including some from Klaipėda, volunteered to go to the war zone in Ukraine in a few days.

In an interview with “Vakarų ekspresas” (“Western Express”), Gintautas Mauricas, the founder and leader of the public organisation “Lukšų vyrai” (Lukšu men), told about who can go to Ukraine and contribute to stopping the aggressor Russian army, which documents are needed, what will be the role of volunteers and other specific nuances of this extraordinary mission. This Kaunas man served 24 years in the Lithuanian Armed Forces and is retired.

He will not go to the front

– You have started to recruit volunteers from Lithuania who are willing to go to Ukraine to help in the fight against the occupying Russian army. Since when has this been going on, how many people have responded and when are the first volunteers planning to leave?

– It all started last Saturday. I had already decided to go to Ukraine myself on Friday, and I started gathering information. The next day, we corresponded with the TV presenter Šarūnas Jasiukevičius from “Praeities žvalgo “(“Past Intelligence”).

He coordinates the issue of refugees from Ukraine: picking them up, taking them to the border, settling them in, etc. Šarūnas asked me if I would coordinate volunteers to go to Ukraine because many people want to go to a country at war. I said yes, and we started to move things along.

First, we contacted the Department of State Security, and then personally, we reached the Minister of National Defence, Arvydas Anušauskas. We asked questions. We got answers. No one can join another country’s military forces without the government’s permission.

We have started the procedures for the legal formalisation of volunteering in Ukraine and consultations. We are going voluntarily. We are not in the military, but we have served in the Lithuanian Armed Forces. Some of us have experienced in the French Foreign Legion. Serious men who can teach share the experience.

For its part, Ukraine announced last Saturday that it would also elect a foreign legion and, on Sunday, published an algorithm on how this can happen. The Danish government has already allowed Danish citizens to join the Foreign Legion. We expect a similar decision from the Lithuanian government in the coming days.

So those who will be going to work as instructors may legally join the Foreign Legion in Ukraine and actually do the job they are good at. Only everything needs to be coordinated with the Ukrainian Embassy in Lithuania. It is important that people do not take independent, illegal action.

At the moment, there are about 30 volunteers. The first four left for Ukraine on Monday, 28 February.

– So, we are now talking about two ways of contributing physically to Ukraine by being directly involved in a war-torn country: volunteers who will work as instructors and those who will be able to take part in real military action as part of the Foreign Legion?

– Yes. Our organisation, “Lukšų vyrai” (Lukšu men), is only mediating the instructors going to Ukraine, and the legion, as I said, is still subject to a decision by our government.

– What would be the role of volunteer instructors in Ukraine? Would they have to go to the front?

– I would like to stress that they would not go to the front line of the war through our organisation. And the functions would be as per the volunteer’s specialisation and knowledge. So, for example, paramedic training will be trained in first aid and practical medicine. They will be trained to save lives.

Those who have experience in heavy weapons will work as instructors and will be trained to use those weapons donated by Western countries. I am talking about anti-tank weapons, Stinger air defence missile complexes, etc. Most of the people who are going will be able to speak English and Russian, so they will be able to translate, mediate, to translate specific instructions on how to use the weapons.

Equipment needed

– Who can go: is it open to everyone, or only those with special skills? Is it necessary to know Ukrainian? Can members of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, National Defence Volunteer Forces, Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union go to war?

– The Ukrainian language is not compulsory. It is very good if a person knows English and Russian. If one knows only English, that’s not a big deal either, because young Ukrainians will understand and translate. But you cannot volunteer in Ukraine: first of all, you have to have served in the Lithuanian army.

One has to be a former soldier, a conscript who has completed basic training. They must have documents confirming their military service, which must be translated into Ukrainian and notarised. Current service members who have completed their professional military service cannot go. They are more needed here in Lithuania. I strongly urge the current soldiers not to leave the service and not to go to Ukraine.

Basic training courses carried out in the Volunteer Forces of the Riflemen’s Union are also recognised as service rendered. A person must know how to use weapons, have the basics of soldiering, and defend himself in a war zone. There can be a variety of roles.

Of course, one must also carry a valid passport. The first Lithuanians to volunteer in Ukraine were former professional soldiers.

– If you meet the legal parameters, that is not enough: you also need to equip yourself with equipment and supplies. What kind of support is needed now? What is missing?

– First of all, the official uniform of the Lithuanian Armed Forces is in no way suitable. We need to have a so-called Multicam: a universal, camouflage military outfit that is similar to the Ukrainian uniform. It can be purchased through various channels, including specialised shops in Lithuania.

We receive financial support from both Lithuania and the USA, and we are looking for channels where the most similar clothing to the Ukrainian uniforms can be purchased. We will act as an intermediary for those who are in need.

Volunteers must travel with complete military equipment suitable for use with AK-series submachine guns, which they will receive in Ukraine for self-defence: uniform, helmet, body armour, tactical vest, hearing protection, first aid kit. The volunteer must be able to defend himself in the event of a conflict with Russian troops without the need to deploy additional Ukrainian troops to protect him.

PROGNOSIS. G. Mauricas, the founder of the public organisation “Men of Lukšiai”, who is recruiting volunteers from Lithuania to work as instructors in Ukraine, believes that the Russian army will be finally defeated within two weeks.

 Photo by M.Žičius.

Recently, they also gave us some fuel, so we will try to provide it as well because some of us will have to travel to Ukraine by our transport, while companies with their buses will transport others to the place.

Please do not call those who have nothing, as it is difficult to coordinate everything on their own for now. I can only give what I have myself. There is a shortage of equipment and protective equipment: helmets, armoured vests, first aid.

I ask you, shotgun enthusiasts: if you have any equipment items that you will not use for at least a couple of months, please lend or donate them. We also need containers for transporting fuel (there are problems with fuel on the territory of Ukraine), dry rations or canned food for the journey, and when we get their medical supplies.

As we have only been operating since last Saturday, there is not much donation so far, but it is coming in.

Two weeks

– Is there any fear that Russia may retaliate against Lithuania for supporting Ukraine not only with equipment, military equipment and weapons but also with human resources?

– We are already beginning to fall behind Denmark, which has allowed its citizens to go to Ukraine to fight in a foreign battalion. I will not undertake to predict Russia’s actions because that is impossible.

– How would you personally model the outcome of a war between Ukraine and Russia?

– Within two weeks, there will be no more Russian troops in Ukraine. The army base will certainly be gone. We can see how things are going for ourselves and how much military equipment is being donated to Ukraine by one foreign country after another. Soon the planes with paratroopers from both Russia and Belarus will stop flying.

Stingers will soon destroy all the winged and propeller-driven equipment. The same fate will befall the tank columns. As soon as the Ukrainians, who have been preparing for war with Russia since 2014, start using the weapons sent by the West with all their might, all their heart and all their mind, everything will change.

The Russian troops will withdraw or be destroyed. Then, the 200s (the so-called corpse freight) will be able to transport them by train.

I cannot predict Russian politicians, but Ukraine will stand up on the war front. Both in spirit and physically. Let us remember that the foreign legion will also be operational. It will be made up of experienced, hardened, professional soldiers who have seen both hot and cold.

– Do you believe that Russia’s next target could be the Baltic States, particularly Lithuania, which has always supported Ukraine at the highest political level?

– If I am wrong and my predictions about the outcome of the war do not come true, then in a few years, we will probably be a target too unless the Russian people themselves overthrow their unpredictable government. Just as they spoke about the Baltic States and Lithuania, they also talked about Georgia and Ukraine.

And we have seen that these countries have been invaded. And that rhetoric towards the Baltic States, towards Lithuania, has not changed. The Tsar may not say it himself, but he expresses his thoughts through the court clown. Like Vladimir Zhirinovsky, who has long been explaining that we should be wiped off the face of the earth. We see that, after a while, what such clowns talk about turns into reality.

If we do not stop Russia in Ukraine, we will find their tanks on our borders after a while.

– What could the people of Lithuania learn from the Ukrainians, who have taken up arms against the aggressor, Russia, the world’s largest state?

– We have already learnt our lesson. We have become highly united and are supporting Ukraine in every possible way. However, everyone must know a key phrase: ‘Russian warship, go fuck yourself.

– Good luck, and thank you for this conversation. Слава Україні! Героям слава! (Glory to Ukraine! Glory to the Heroes!)

Information from the Embassy of Ukraine in Lithuania (26 02 2022)

You need to arrive in the territory of Ukraine and go to the nearest territorial recruitment centre. List of points:

You must bring with you your identity documents, as well as documents certifying military training or military service, with a translation into Ukrainian.
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