Lithuania brings back military conscription

Lithuania's Ministry of National Defense has announced the reintroduction of mandatory military service amid Russia's conflict with Ukraine.
By Richard Tomkins   |   March 20, 2015 at 6:44 PM
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VILNIUS, Lithuania, March 20 (UPI) -- The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defense said the first call-up would involve those between the ages of 19 and 26 who had not previously received military training.

Between 3,000 and 3,500 people would be conscripted annually and would have to serve nine months on active duty.

"Those volunteering will be the first ones to be enrolled," the ministry said. "Only if a sufficient number of volunteers do not turn out, the draft will be conducted on a mandatory basis from the military draftee record for the current year.

"With regard to the interest of the society and the questions arising about the future draft, the Ministry of National Defense will consult with representatives of political parties and interested groups and will take into account the proposals given for revising the organizational procedures of conscription and other relevant legislation."

Lithuania, located in the Baltic region, was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 and declared its independence in 1990. It has an active-duty and active-reserve force of less than 20,000.

Lithuania became a member of NATO in 2004. It scrapped conscription four years later.

Lithuania is a strong critic of Russia's annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine and Russian-backed conflict in Ukraine's eastern region. Both incidents have stoked anxiety in Baltic states over possible Moscow's intent towards them.

"We must reinforce the country's defense capacities," Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said recently. "Under new geopolitical circumstances, the army must be properly prepared for the country's armed defense even in times of peace."

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