How quickly could Russia invade Lithuania?

Tensions with RussiaLithuania distributes guides in case of war

"Keep a clear head and don't panic" - this is what the Lithuanian government advises its citizens in the event of war in a new guide (PDF for download) that has been distributed since yesterday. The background to this is the Ukraine crisis and the growing fear that the former Soviet republics in the Baltic States could become victims of a Russian invasion. In this case, the new brochure provides advice on how to resist the occupiers, but above all tips on how to survive in war.

"The new guide is helpful for anyone who has no idea," says Vytautas, "but if you know what you're doing, you don't need it". And Vytautas knows its way around. The Lithuanian is shopping in the capital Vilnius, but lives in the country. It would be safer there if war broke out, he says, and there is enough to survive:

"I already have a little stock on my farm: two chickens and grain. I know how to do it, after all I was in the Soviet Army. Putin is really unpredictable - you never know what he will suddenly do."

Best to flee to the country

But shots right in front of the window did not mean the end of the world, according to the government's adviser. Only when soldiers take up positions around them do you have to flee - ideally to friends or family in the country, this Lithuanian also knows:

"Then I would have to get out of the city with my husband and the children. Because the cities will be occupied first, we have learned from history. I think war is unlikely at the moment, but you still have to be prepared for it."

In preparation, the Ministry of Defense has published the 98-page brochure, which is currently being distributed in schools and libraries. Many Lithuanians are following the conflict in Ukraine with suspicion - and some fear that the Baltic States could be next. Russia is "not a nice neighbor," said Lithuania's defense minister and asked the editor in charge, Karolis Aleksa, to write a manual for an emergency:

How to defend yourself

"We give the population practical advice on how to leave their place of residence when the enemy has occupied it. And: what to do if the escape does not succeed in order to survive. But it is also about how to defend oneself and how to resist. "

The manual speaks of cyber attacks against the enemy, demonstrations and strikes.

Pure "scare tactics", says the Moscow state television broadcaster "Russia Today" and lets foreign policy expert Srdja Trifkovic have his say.

"A lot of people feed the fear of Russia. They like to take advantage of any event to point out the alleged intentions of Russia so that they can further justify their own political power."

"Invasion is not very likely"

Arturas Paulauskas, chairman of the defense committee in the Lithuanian parliament, speaks of a changed geopolitical situation. Russia wants to demonstrate power with rearmament and military maneuvers:

"An invasion is not very likely. But there is already an information war going on. The plan to unite all Russian-speaking residents of the Baltic region is not a theory, but a reality. Everything possible is being done without invading soldiers. We feel that very closely. "

The brochure gives detailed tips: For controls at enemy checkpoints, you should always have two rucksacks with you, in case you have one removed. And: take valuable barter goods with you, such as cigarettes, schnapps or matches.
But not all Lithuanians can do something with such advice:

"When war breaks out, you don't need any of that any more. Then our nuclear power plant will be bombed and our gas storage facility. And then there will be nothing left of Lithuania. The guide would only be a collection of anecdotes."