Serious discussion on national defence in the autumn: it would affect everyone

Exercise in Rukla
Lithuanian Military. An exercise in Rukla.

During the autumn session of the Seimas, the members of the National Security and Defence Committee (NSDC) will prioritise the issues of civil resistance courses and general conscription, according to the Chairman of the NSDC, Laurynas Kasčiūnas. On Monday, Kasčiūnas presented these priority issues to President Gitanas Nausėda, whose approval he said he had heard Indrė Naureckaitė writes in

The first priority of the NSGK in the upcoming session, according to Kasčiūnas, is the development of civil resistance courses for society.

“So that people questioning their place in the defence of Lithuania can find that place. This requires the will to resist, to defend, skills and a place in defence plans,” he said.

The politician said that he had presented his vision to the President on how this could be implemented. He recalled that he had already registered amendments to the law to require gun owners to undergo a civil resistance course and that the MP would soon register amendments to require civil servants to undergo such a course, which would then be integrated into the defence plans.

The Conservatives also stressed the need for the development of commandant’s headquarters, which are teams based in municipalities that would contribute to the fight against subversive groups, to the protection of strategic objects and to the management of population flows.

Therefore, one of the goals of the NSGK next year is to hold a general large-scale exercise of the Lithuanian population.

“Lithuania is going out on a limb: whether reserve soldiers, commandant members of the Rifleman Association, or armed individuals, such as hunters, who want to have a role to play, they should have an exercise,” the MP said.

Another topic Kasčiūnas discussed with the Head of State was the universal conscription to compulsory initial military service.

“I agree with the President’s idea, and our political force is also entirely on the same page, that we need to start thinking about how to escape the lottery principle and move towards universal conscription.

For example, we could talk about our young people, who could perhaps do their duty for their country straight out of school, and then think about either the path of a soldier or the path of building their own personal future,” he said.

During the autumn session, the Ministry of Defence is already planning to submit a reform of the conscription model to the Seimas – although this reform so far only proposes to shorten the compulsory initial military service to six months, with a number of service alternatives envisaged. 

“I can say at this point that there will be a very serious discussion on whether universal conscription should be implemented,” Kasčiūnas said.

Kasčiūnas stressed that next year is already election time, so this autumn session is the only time when the Seimas have to decide what path Lithuania will follow.

Measures on Wagner 

In addition, already on today, the NSGK members will discuss whether the restrictive measures against Belarusian citizens should be aligned in the same way as those already imposed on Russian citizens, i.e. by tightening the visa procedure and entry to Lithuania.

The politician speculated that the emergence of Wagner in Belarus could change the previous position of some parliamentarians not to apply the same restrictions to Belarusians as to Russian citizens.

“An example is the Wagner fighters with Belarusian passports. This is a simple example of how it could be organised from their side”.

Asked what the Kremlin and Minsk are trying to achieve by deploying Wagner in Belarus, Kasčiūnas said that Vladimir Putin may not have fully decided on the group’s future.

At the same time, he said, Aliaksandr Lukashenko may have various variants in mind and may hope to profit from the group.

“When it comes to provocations, Lukashenko always plays the game of ‘I create a problem, and then you negotiate with me’, for example, on removing sanctions, ” the politician said.

So far, the NSGC members have recommended closing two border crossings with Belarus because of the Wagner threat.

However, according to Kasčiūnas, complete closure of the border with Belarus would have to be a joint decision with Poland and Latvia, and it would require clear criteria, such as systemic provocations and mass border violations.

The autumn session of the Seimas starts on 10 September.

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