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.
countryaah, 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.
New head of government 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.