Preparations for a war scenario in Lithuania – only on paper? Core institutions feel left in the dark

Consequences of the shelling of a dormitory near Zhytomyr. Photo Tereshchenko Oleg UNIAN

Preparations for a possible war seem to be limited to papers and strategies – Lithuanian schools, the country’s medical profession and even some members of the Seimas say they do not know what they should do if an aggressor attacks Lithuania, Indrė Naureckaitė is writing at the news portal.

Not everyone sees a problem here, but Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas says all the necessary information is publicly available. All you have to do is ask around.

Teachers in limbo

Egidijus Milešinas, chairman of the Lithuanian Trade Union of Education and Science (LŠMPS), who is a teacher himself, said he has absolutely no information on what to do in the event of a war.

“As far as I have been able to observe the politicians’ discussions on this topic, strategies and plans are being developed, but I have no information about their implementation,” Milešinas told the news portal

The chairman of the Lithuanian Union of Sportsmen and Sportswomen stressed that it is not necessary to talk only about the preparation for a possible war scenario. There is a lack of preparation for any emergency situations.

“Such elementary things as, for example, a fire in an educational institution – I think that the legislation stipulates that at least once a year, there should be some kind of exercise on how to evacuate a school. But there are no such things.

There may be some plans written down in the papers, but there is no implementation, no real adaptation, no preparation, and no drills every year. This is important when you see the situation – the war has been going on for more than a year, but in Lithuania, there are only discussions”, – emphasised Mr Milešinas.

However, he noted that the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport is changing the general curriculum – last year, ninth graders had a week of life skills programme training in some schools, and now the subject is to be expanded.

“Again, these are just words because all training does not come out of nowhere, it has to be funded, and we have no information yet on how it will be funded.

We have not yet seen the draft government decrees on the procedure for allocating training funds, and it is not clear whether the money will come or whether it will be just words that we are doing it,” he reflected.

Therefore, as Mr Milešinas stressed, it would not be enough for the Ministry to simply send schools materials on how they should behave in a state of emergency or during a war. There should also be practical sessions for both teachers and students.

“If something like this happens, and if teachers know what to do and pupils have not heard anything about it, it will do no good – there will only be confusion and chaos,” Milešinas believes.

Not even members of Parliament know?

At the end of April, Vilija Targamadzė, a member of the Seimas, said during a meeting that not only Lithuanian citizens but even members of the Seimas do not know what to do in case of war and how to organise themselves for civil resistance.

“Even we, the members of the Seimas, are not instructed how we should behave. As far as I know, there are enough funds, and maybe you lack intellectual potential or experience? Tell me, can these issues be resolved?” V. Targamadzė asked Minister of National Defence A. Anušauskas.

The Minister himself urged the MEP to take an interest because, according to him, all the information is available. All one has to do is to use it.

“The Ministry of National Defence does not instruct the members of the Seimas, but we, the members of the Government, are instructed. We know what to do and where to go in such cases. And, by the way, the Seimas, as an institution, can also do this because the Government Office has instructed us.

The Ministry of the Interior has both a website and information – People have to take an interest in this themselves, and nobody will force them to take an interest if they do not take an interest themselves. So I would encourage you to take an interest. This is not scaremongering. It is educating people,” Anušauskas replied to the MP.

At the same time, the chairman of the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence (NSGK), conservative Laurynas Kasčiūnas, having heard that some parliamentarians would not know how to act in case of a war, pointed out that he was organising a course on civil resistance for members of Parliament.

On 17 May, the commander of the Riflemen‘s Union will hold, according to Kasčiūnas, an “introduction to the course” at the Seimas, which will cover mobilisation issues and the work of MPs in the event of martial law.

“It will be an introduction – a few hours course, discussing basic things to introduce the members of the Seimas to the architecture of defence, who is responsible for what, and as much time as there is left – we will go into public involvement, civil defence, analysis of the law on martial law. Then, mini-practical elements may appear,” Kasčiūnas told

The politician did not speculate on how many Seimas members would take part in such training. “Members of the Seimas are free people, and they cannot be forced – they can even stay away from meetings. There has been some interest, and if at least half or more of them take part, that would be good,” he said.

In this way, Kasčiūnas said, parliamentarians would set an example for other institutions and the public.

The politician assured that in the future, more trainers would be trained, either as marksmen or volunteer soldiers, who would be able to deliver courses at different levels, with different profiles, tailored to a specific organisation or to different sections of society, depending on their potential role in defence plans.

Medical preparedness is a scare situation

Lithuanian medics are not aware of how they should behave in case of war.

Auristida Gerliakienė, chairwoman of the board of the Lithuanian Medical Movement (LMS), told that medics have no instructions on where they should go in case of a war, who they should turn to, and what a particular specialisation of physicians should do.

Moreover, Lithuanian medics are not trained to work in wartime conditions.

“I doubt very much that we have enough trained doctors who could help in the field. We certainly do not have experience with lacerations, gunshot wounds – neither how to treat them nor how to care for them,” she said.

Gerliakienė said that she had already raised the issue of medics’ work in case of war a year ago, but no step towards more preparation and training had been taken in a year.

Officials are ready

Mindaugas Kanapickas, Deputy Director of the Fire Protection and Rescue Department (PAGD), spoke in a very different way about the preparation for a war scenario.

In the event of a war, firefighters, like police officers, would not be part of the armed forces but would be mobilised for various tasks.

Mr Kanapickas pointed out that the PRTD and other statutory services have approved military standard equipment lists, which are clear positions of items and tools that would be used in the event of military action in Lithuania.

According to the Deputy Director of the PRTD, Lithuanian firefighters are also in regular contact with a similar service in Ukraine.

“We observe the type of work performed by firefighters in Ukraine, and we try to apply an analogy to model our actions on the experience of our colleagues in Ukraine. We can see that there is a significant increase in the number of rescues when it is necessary to save people’s lives from the rubble,” Kanapickas told the portal

Kanapickas admitted that not all Lithuanian firefighters have passed the basic military course. Still, joint exercises of firefighters, police officers, border guards and the Lithuanian Armed Forces are regularly conducted, as well as simulated mobilisation tasks and table-top exercises.

“Not all of our colleagues have basic training skills – some of them have served in the army, and some have not. However, every year we sign mutual cooperation plans with the Lithuanian Armed Forces, and we plan separate themes where we could improve our joint actions at the tactical level and acquire some skills.

Every year there are a lot of exercises, simulating one or another possible scenario, anticipating what our officers would contribute to the Lithuanian Armed Forces.

At the moment, our firefighters have not received any theoretical part of what warfare is, any clear knowledge of the peculiarities of warfare, of military tactics”, he explained.

Although there is a shortage of statutory officers even in peacetime, Kanapickas considered it difficult to identify the specific capabilities of firefighters in case of war.

“If we calculate that there are over a hundred firefighters on duty every day in Lithuania, under a certain legal regime, whether in case of martial law or mobilisation, in any case, the working regime would change.

The officers would be mobilised – they have taken an oath to the Republic of Lithuania. We hope that they will do their duty. If they refused or were scared, it would be a different situation,” Kanapickas said.

Failure to report for duty in the event of war could lead to administrative liability. But even more important, according to Kanapickas, is a moral responsibility.

“(I cannot guarantee for every officer – author’s note), but there is an expectation and faith in my colleagues, in my officers, that they will do their duty to the end,” he said.
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