Lithuania’s new chief of defence lists threats to national security

Jonas Vytautas Žukas
DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

Lithuania’s Armed Forces will have enough weapons but should train enough specialists to use them, says Major General Jonas Vytautas Žukas.

According to him, Lithuania’s Land Forces now only include six infantry companies which “can operate independently, as they have everything they should have and everything they need for battle”.

Žukas noted that companies in battalions are “extremely reduced to 30-40 soldiers or even fewer”.

“In the future, I expect about ten battalions. We have to think of ways to achieve this. It depends on the financing and the reserve (…). I believe that, in the light of the developments in Ukraine, we should think about concentration of forces. It is better to have two or three battalions that mean something rather than ten battalions that are nothing more than a name. They do something, hold trainings but are non-existent as combat battalions,” said the major general.

In his words, the reserve also involves a number of problems, as “to draft 100 reserve officers to repeated training requires that 1,000 are drafted”.

“Now everyone talks about weapons. Believe me, there will be weapons! The important part is to have people capable of using them,” Žukas concluded.

Russian “tourists” and not tanks are the real threat

Major General Žukas says he doubts that Russia might invade Lithuania with tanks. Rather, he says, the more likely scenario is fighters entering Lithuania as tourists.

“I really doubt that Russia will ever invade our country with tanks as it did during World War Two,” Žukas said in an interview to the weekly magazine Veidas.

In his words, Lithuania should be ready for a potential crisis that would involve instigation among civilian population.

“Tourists will arrive on civilian airlines – young men with short hair, strong build and nice clothes, and they will suddenly appear in very large numbers in Vilnius. They will not come in one day but over the course of several weeks. Then there will be uniforms and guns all of a sudden,” said Žukas.

“If there are any disturbances, instigation of civilians, distribution of passports, this will be immediately followed by emergence of people from outside Lithuania who were ordinary tourists just a day before. This is something we have to be ready for and bear in our mind, if a crisis is in sight,” said the new chief of defence.

Žukas, 52, will take over the command of Lithuania’s Armed Forces from outgoing Lieutenant General Arvydas Pocius at a solemn ceremony at the Cathedral Square in Vilnius on Thursday noon.

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