Military expert: We must be ready to fight if necessary

On the military training in the Lithuanian Army
On the military training in the Lithuanian Army I.Budzeikaitė photo.

Is Lithuania in real danger? Analysts stress that there is no comparison between our situation and Ukraine – we are members of NATO, with NATO forces at our backs. But military experts and political analysts are hesitant to guarantee that Putin will not be driven to another madness by targeting the Baltic States Eglė Šeputytė wrote in TV3.lt

In a worst-case scenario, if NATO forces are directly involved in the war, or if Putin decides to penetrate even deeper, it could, they say, turn into a third world war. However, Ukraine has a good chance of repelling the attack. Meanwhile, military experts are somewhat surprised by the Kremlin’s choice of tactics.

Lithuania is now some 500 kilometres away from war. That is the distance between our border and the northwest of Ukraine, where explosions are also rumbling today. Taking this into account, together with our membership of NATO, can Lithuanians feel safe today?

“We are the safest we have been in the history of our existence. But I cannot say, “sleep well, there will be nothing tomorrow”. That is why we have to think coolly, live without panic and be ready to fight if necessary”, says Darius Antanaitis, a military expert.

“Lithuania is safe. We should not panic. But we have to understand one simple thing – the war is not against Ukraine. It is against all of us, the democratic world in general. The war is already happening to us, but the front line is still far enough away from Lithuania”, says analyst Marius Laurinavičius.

NATO protects our country, but political analysts note that until recently, the Minsk agreements were in force in the current war zone, which Putin simply swept away. Political analysts, therefore, no longer believe that an aggressor who dreams of restoring the Soviet Union will not dare to test the strength of NATO’s borders either.

“When we talked about Crimea – “no, not possible”. Now we have also said that a large-scale operation is probably impossible. To say that it cannot be possible would be imprudent, to say the least”, says political scientist Vytis Jurkonis.

The Kremlin’s aggression could even turn into a world war in the worst-case scenario. If Ukraine does not get enough Western arms aid now and does not hold out, Putin would have a growing appetite to go after the South Caucasus or continue blackmailing NATO. In addition, Putin aims to have a land route to occupy Crimea and bring Ukraine to a complete standstill.

“Destroy the Ukrainian state. What is called ‘de-Nazification’ is the complete destruction of the state and state power. They are targeting the whole of Ukraine, even more than anyone imagined, with these attacks in Western Ukraine, which was probably the least to be expected,” Laurinavič said.

“Bombs, troops, tanks are the language they think they understand better, where they feel more confident and believe that the West will retreat in the face of such a threat”, comments Jurkonis.

According to Linas Kojala, head of the Centre for East European Studies, what the regime will surely spare for the Baltics now is the flow of disinformation.

“It is obvious that there could be all kinds of provocations, hybrid attacks, cyber-attacks. It is now very important not to lose the information battle”, says political scientist Linas Kojala. And it is vital for Ukraine to counter direct attacks.

“Ukraine has better chances. The Ukrainians are capable and adequately prepared to counter a Russian attack. Moreover, not only to repel, but also to go on a counter-attack, but this takes time and resources, and the West’s contribution is very important here,” says Antanaitis.

According to Darius Antanaitis, the most important thing for Ukraine now is air defence systems and anti-tank defence. The military expert is somewhat surprised by the Kremlin’s tactics, revealing Russian weaknesses. In Chechnya and Sakartvel, Russian attacks began with a sudden large-scale bombardment, whereas now they are more likely to move in by land.

“Whether it is because the Russians don’t have the resources or because they are afraid of the Ukrainian air defence, it is hard to say, but this war is different,” says Antanaitis.

Two hundred thousand troops would not be enough to occupy the entire territory of Ukraine, according to Antanaitis.

“When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, the expectation was that the Russian-speaking local population would welcome Russia with open arms, especially in the eastern part of the country. But this was not the case. This means that the deeper the Kremlin goes, the greater the resistance will be from the general public,” says Kojala.

“What we see is that the supply is quite low, the long distances in Ukraine will not help the logistical supply, and the Ukrainian resistance in the occupied territories will not help the Russians to get enough resources either”, says Antanaitis.

However, analysts believe that Russia’s actions will intensify in the coming days and that the war on Ukrainian territory could be protracted.

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