What would Lithuania’s Russian speakers do if Moscow invaded the country?

DELFI / Domantas Pipas

Ethnic Russians and Poles living in Lithuania would generally tend to defend the country if it were attacked by Russia.

Eastern Europe Studies Centre has commissioned Baltijos Tyrimai / Gallup to interview about 500 people belonging to Lithuania’s ethnic minority communities.

The survey was conducted between June 27 and July 12 in five municipalities with the biggest non-Lithuanian speaking populations: Vilnius City, Vilnius District, Visaginas, Šalčininkai and Klaipėda.

Most of the respondents, 46%, identified as Polish, 35% were Russian, 8% Belarusian, 6% Ukrainian, 2% Jewish. The majority of respondents (83%) were born in Lithuania.

Nearly two thirds, 64.8%, of the respondents said they would defend Lithuania if the country was under attack. The survey shows that the latter question was more likely to get a positive response from people with a good command of the Lithuanian language: 74.6% among those who attended Lithuanian schools, 81.1% among people who have a Lithuanian spouse and 80.5% among people with university-level education.

Interestingly, Russian speakers were more likely to say they would defend the country in case of an attack (65%) compared to Polish speakers (59.9%).

“When talking about the defence of the country, Russians have always been more willing to protect the country, especially younger residents who identify with this country. Let’s look at the lists of conscripts – they go and serve,” said Baltijos Tyrimai deputy director Romas Mačiūnas.

However, more than half, 52.8%, of respondents agreed with the statement that Russia’s policies were an adequate response to actions of the US and NATO.

Moreover, Russia’s annexation of Crimea seemed legitimate to 42.8% of respondents. Finally, 40.8% agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement that the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical tragedy. Interestingly, such position was slightly more popular among Polish than Russian speakers.

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