Lithuania. Lithuania switched to the euro as currency in the New Year. The country became the nineteenth member of the euro zone, but only a small majority of residents were positive to the membership. Price increases followed the currency exchange, and pensioners who saw their pension change from 830 litas to 240 euros could experience it as a psychological hardship.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Vilnius is the capital of Lithuania which is located in Northern Europe. The tense security situation in the region affected Lithuania strongly. The country was a harsh critic of the Russian occupation in Crimea and the war in Ukraine. President Dalia Grybauskaitė said at the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in May that Lithuania could not accept the extortion of an attacker who calls himself the winner of Europe but who has started a new war against Ukraine.
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Among other things, Lithuania’s concern was expressed in a brochure for schools on the theme of the war to come. The country also decided to reintroduce a military service with about 3,000 young men convened each year. The government also planned a significant increase in the defense budget.
When the Russian Federation carried out military exercises near the Baltic border at the beginning of the year, NATO responded with three months of exercises in Lithuania, Poland, Latvia and Estonia with several thousand NATO soldiers. NATO also opened a command center in Lithuania.
The Russian Federation accused NATO that the exercise was a preparation for the annexation of the Russian enclave Kaliningrad. When the United States declared heavy weapons to be stationed in the Baltic States, the Russian Federation responded that it intended to deploy Iskander robots in Kaliningrad, bordering Lithuania.
In the spring, a Russian citizen was arrested on suspicion of espionage for the Russian security service FSB. At the same time, Russian naval vessels were accused of interfering with the work of the Swedish-Lithuanian electricity cable Nordbalt on the bottom of the Baltic Sea. However, the work could be completed during the year. The cable will give Lithuania electricity from Sweden and thus the opportunity to reduce dependence on Russian energy.
For part of the year, the Lithuanian government banned the Russian-language TV channel RTR Planeta from broadcasting to Lithuania. The channel was accused, among other things, of war propaganda.
In August, Lithuania prosecuted 66 Russian, Belarusian and Ukrainian citizens who were charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity in January 1991 in Vilnius. According to the indictment, they were responsible for the massacre of 13 people who tried to prevent Soviet soldiers from storming the TV tower.
There was strong opposition to the EU’s quota of 710 refugees to Lithuania. According to President Grybauskaitė, Lithuania only managed 250. The government spoke of 40-50 refugees, and according to the Interior Minister, they would “preferably match our cultural characteristics and be Christians”. One commentator accused the government of hypocrisy. Lithuania demands respect as a full member of the EU and NATO, but when it comes to jointly carrying the EU refugee burden, the country assumes the role of a bad loser, it was called.
Following pressure from the EU, the government accepted a quota of 1,105 refugees over two years from Italy and Greece. But according to a spokesman for the government, no asylum seekers from there seemed to want to come to Lithuania.