Lithuania. In January, a trial was initiated against 65 former Soviet military officials and officers for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Only two of the defendants were present. This was the case in January 1991 when the Soviet army tried to take control of the Vilnius TV tower and 14 people were killed.
Foreign policy was dominated this year by the military armaments of the Russian Federation and NATO in the Baltic Sea region. Lithuanian politicians expressed concern about a possible Russian attack, but Moscow denied any intention to attack the Baltics.
According to countryaah, the current population of Lithuania is 2,722,300. NATO had four fighter planes stationed at the Lithuanian air base in Šiauliai for patrolling the Baltic airspace. In March, NATO announced an upgrade to a combat-ready air force ready to defend the Baltic in war. Lithuania’s defense chief also wanted more NATO troops for a deterrent with readiness for a military attack.
Lithuania had in a short time doubled its defense budget in relation to GDP. According to US analyzes, Lithuania and Latvia had the world’s fastest growing defense budgets.
The commander of the US forces in Europe said in June that NATO would not be able to defend the Baltic against a Russian attack with existing forces. He believed that Russian troops could take the Lithuanian capital Vilnius in a couple of hours.
At the NATO Summit in Warsaw in July, it was decided to place a battalion of about 1,000 soldiers each in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland in 2017. The NATO force in Lithuania is to be led by the German military.
In October, the Russian Federation deployed so-called Iskander robots in Kaliningrad, bordering Lithuania. The robots can be loaded with nuclear warheads, have 50 mils range and can reach the entire Baltic, among others. According to Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė, it was an aggressive measure aimed at the whole of Europe. The Russian Federation also deployed two battleships in the Baltic Sea, equipped with long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons. According to Moscow, it was to meet NATO’s development in the region.
Lithuania’s imports of gas from the Russian Federation declined sharply during the year, when instead imports of liquefied Norwegian gas increased to a new terminal on the Baltic Sea coast. In June, Lithuania lost a dispute against Russian Gazprom in arbitration in Stockholm. Lithuania had demanded the equivalent of about SEK 13 billion for what it considered to be gas prices since 2004.
In a time of weak economy and a dark future, the parliamentary elections in October became a serious loss for the ruling Social Democrats (S). The opposition party Lithuanian Alliance and Green Alliance (LVŽS) progressed sensationally from a parliamentary mandate to 53, while the S collapsed from 38 to 17 mandates. The Conservative Confederation lost two seats and gained 31. The major loser became the Labor Party, which fell from 29 to two seats.
The result was seen as another Lithuanian dissatisfaction choice. The countryside was in deep crisis following young people’s emigration to cities and abroad, and agricultural exports were severely affected by EU sanctions against the Russian Federation. LVŽS promised measures to stop emigration, increase the state’s role in the economy, monopolize alcohol sales, and prevent same-sex marriage.
The S-led government also opposed President Dalia Grybauskaitė in the election. She described the country’s government as corrupt and incompetent, and when she voted she expressed the hope that the new members of parliament would steal less.
After difficult negotiations, the electoral conqueror LVŽS and loser S agreed to form a coalition government. It was an unexpected alliance, but the parties said they wanted to reduce economic injustices and curb emigration.
According to thereligionfaqs, new head of government in Lithuania became Saulius Skvernelis from LVŽS, hard former police chief and interior minister who made a critical statement about the reception of Muslim refugees. He was approved by Parliament in November.