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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, April 14, 2022

Apr 16 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, April 14, 2022
  2. Lithuanian president condemns war crimes in Ukraine during visit to Kyiv
  3. Finland, Sweden joining NATO would enhance region’s security – Lithuanian PM
  4. Lithuania reports 1,507 new COVID-19 cases, six deaths
  5. Number of Ukrainian war refugees registered in Lithuania rises to almost 45,000
  6. Lithuania turns 1 irregular migrant away on border with Belarus, allows 4 persons to enter
  7. Lithuanian president calls on Western countries’ leaders to come to Ukraine
  8. Parlt speaker: Lithuania to suspend state of emergency to vote on direct mayoral elections
  9. Lithuanian ministers call to suspend Russia’s, Belarus’ membership in intl institutions
  10. Lithuanian PM: one LNG terminal would be enough for Baltic States, but “not without risks”
  11. Lithuanian defmin puzzled by Russia’s talk on deployment of nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad
  12. Lithuanian parlt grants special status to Rudninkai training area
  13. Lithuanian defmin puzzled by Russia’s talk on deployment of nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad (expands)
  14. Border guards let 4 foreigners under ECHR protection enter Lithuania
  15. Lithuanian PM regrets diplomatic tensions between Ukraine, Germany
  16. Some 100 extra US troops with Paladin artillery systems arrive in Lithuania
  17. Lithuania tests functioning of secure network in crisis situation – DefMin
  18. Court orders Ryanair to pay EUR 600,000 to ex-employees in Lithuania
  19. Lithuanian president calls Russia's nuclear threats "an empty shot in the air"
  20. Intl community backs tribunal over Russian aggression – Lithuanian president
  21. President asks Lithuanian businesses to help to rebuild Ukraine
  22. Lithuanian president warns EU states have hopes for post-war ties with Russia
  23. Ukraine needs heavy military equipment, missile systems – Lithuanian president
  24. Lithuanian FM issues warning as Belarus offers visa-free visits
  25. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Friday, April 15, 2022

Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, April 14, 2022

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Thursday, April 14, 2022:

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to attend a meeting of the Conference of Chairs at 8.30 a.m.; to chair the parliament's morning sitting at 10 a.m.; to attend the parliament's afternoon sitting at 2 p.m.

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to give an interview to the Ziniu Radijas radio station at 8:05 a.m; to attend the parliament's morning sitting at 10 a.m.; to participate in the so-called "government hour" at the Seimas at noon; to attend the parliament's afternoon sitting at 2 p.m.

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Lithuanian president condemns war crimes in Ukraine during visit to Kyiv

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – Potential war crimes being recorded in Borodyanka and other Ukrainian towns could only have been committed “by zombies, not humans”, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said after visiting the said suburb of Kyiv on Wednesday.

“This is the place where we witness the dark side of the human kind. Such atrocities could have been committed only by zombies, not humans. They were executing orders by their military leaders – zombies, too. They are consciously annihilating the Ukrainian nation,” Nauseda said during a joint news conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the leaders of Estonia, Latvia and Poland.

“There is no way we can let this go, the Russian authorities must pay for their crimes,” he added.

While showing respect for the Ukrainian nation and President Zelensky, Nauseda stressed that the heroic Ukrainian nation had shown “incredible strength” in recent weeks and continued this fight mobilizing the world “to stand up for truth and peace”.

He repeatedly called on Western partners to step up military support for Ukraine and also urged the European Union (EU) to adopt as soon as possible the sanctions against Russian oil and gas as well as “all Russian banks”, saying that Ukrainian people were not in a position to wait “a year or two”.

Nauseda on Wednesday visited Ukraine together with the presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Poland.

On Tuesday, he paid a visit to Poland where he met with the presidents of Poland and Latvia and the foreign minister of Estonia to discuss the war in Ukraine, expanding support to Ukraine and strengthening the eastern flank of NATO.

The aim of the presidents’ visit was to demonstrate support to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky amid the continuing Russia’s military invasion, officials said.

As Russia unleashed war against Ukraine, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor opened a probe into car crimes in Ukraine in response to an appeal from several dozens of states parties to the Rome Statute.

By Ignas Jačauskas

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Finland, Sweden joining NATO would enhance region’s security – Lithuanian PM

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – Joining NATO by Finland and Sweden would enhance the region’s security, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte has said.

“That support, which we see, that unprecedented support, first of all in Finland, but also in Sweden, where more than half of people are in favor of NATO membership, I think, it is … a game changer for us, the security of the Baltic Sea region,” she told the Ziniu Radijas radio station on Thursday.

The accession to NATO by two countries of the Baltic Sea region would “significantly” strengthen the security of not just that region but also of the whole of NATO, Simonyte stated.

“I think the presence of these countries as members of the Alliance would actually much strengthen both the Alliance and these countries, as well as our security. Once this decision is announced, and I hope it will be taken, I think the Baltic countries will have a very good reason to welcome it,” she added.

Finland and Sweden are NATO partners but formally are not members of the Alliance. The countries’ policymakers started debating joining NATO in the wake of Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, which heightened concerns over military security. Finland is due to decide on NATO membership within weeks.

By Ignas Jačauskas

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Lithuania reports 1,507 new COVID-19 cases, six deaths

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 1,507 new coronavirus infections and six deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Thursday morning.

Some 1,287 of the new cases were primary, 217 were secondary and three were tertiary.

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals has dropped 810, including 47 ICU cases.

The 14-day primary infection rate has fallen to 765.7 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests down to 23.4 percent.

The daily count of new infections had been rising at a rapid pace since late 2021, but took a downward turn in early February after hitting a new high of over 14,000 cases.

Almost 69.8 percent of the Lithuanian population have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab so far.

Five of the latest fatalities were aged over 70 years, and the sixth was aged over 40. Three of the fatalities, including the one in their 40s, were unvaccinated.

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Number of Ukrainian war refugees registered in Lithuania rises to almost 45,000

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – The total number of Ukrainian war refugees registered in Lithuania so far has risen to almost 45,000, including 18,600 minors, according to the latest official statistics published on Thursday.

Some 580 people, including 493 minors, have registered with refugee registration centers or the Migration Department's units over the past 24 hours. The number of minors included 50 children under the age of six.

Around a third of all refugees, or 14,500, have registered with the capital's registration center, almost 6,300 – with the registration center of Kaunas, 4,900 – in Klaipeda, 4,500 – in Alytus, and 2,300 – in Siauliai.

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Lithuania turns 1 irregular migrant away on border with Belarus, allows 4 persons to enter

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours turned away one migrant attempting to cross into the country from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Thursday morning adding that the number of migrants had been decreasing for the fifth consecutive day.

The SBGS also reported that border guards had allowed four foreign nationals, whose identities were being established, to enter Lithuania on humanitarian grounds.

One flare was fired on the Belarusian side overnight near Lithuania’s Salcininkai District and four more, also fired on the Belarusian side, were spotted after dark near Lithuania’s Druskininkai municipality.

In addition, border guards found a hole cut in the concertina wire barrier near the municipality of Druskininkai after dark but did not find anything suspicious, including the evidence of breaching the border, after checking the site and its surroundings.

The barrier was fixed while the SBGS officers started collecting evidence for a pre-trial investigation into the destruction or damage to property.

According to the latest official data, 1,347 people have been prevented from crossing from Belarus into Lithuania at non-designated places so far this year, compared to 2,600 people in Latvia and 3,600 in Poland.

Lithuanian border guards have sent 8,106 people back to Belarus since August 3, 2021, when they were given the right to deny entry to irregular migrants. However, the number includes repeated attempts by the same people to cross the border.

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants crossed into Lithuania from Belarus last year.

Western countries accuse the Minsk regime of orchestrating the unprecedented migration influx, calling it "hybrid aggression".

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Lithuanian president calls on Western countries’ leaders to come to Ukraine

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda on Thursday called on Western countries’ leaders to come to war-ravaged Ukraine after visiting Kyiv and its surroundings the day before.

Nauseda stated after a joint visit to Ukraine with the leaders of Poland, Latvia and Estonia that visits to Ukraine might reinforce commitment to impose tighter sanctions against Russia, which was pressing on with its military invasion.

“Our task was to visit and to see with our own eyes those atrocities the Putin’s regime committed in Borodyanka. I think it is a very good idea for many leaders from many countries to come to Borodyanka, to other places and to see with their own eyes what is happening there,” he told a news conference in Rzeszow-Jasionka airport in South Eastern Poland on Thursday.

“Most likely it would contribute to more decisive actions of the EU, of other countries,” Nauseda added.

The Lithuanian president also stressed that the West should “lose any illusions” that Russia “could be affected by diplomatic measures” as it could only be defeated in Ukraine by taking “decisive actions”.

“First of all, sanctions. We have to introduce much stronger sanctions and not to stay halfway,” Nauseda stated.

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Parlt speaker: Lithuania to suspend state of emergency to vote on direct mayoral elections

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – The state of emergency introduced in Lithuania due to Russia’s war against Ukraine will be suspended temporarily next week in order to enable the parliament to vote on constitutional amendments legitimizing direct mayoral elections, Seimas Speaker Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen confirmed on Thursday.

“The agenda for next Thursday has been approved and it includes holding three votes on the Constitution, and it means that the state of emergency will have to be suspended for at least a short period of time to provide at least a small window for voting on the Constitution,” she told reporters at the Seimas.

The state of emergency was introduced across Lithuania on February 24 when Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine and will stay in place until the midnight of April 20.

Cmilyte-Nielsen assumed that the state of emergency would be extended after voting on the Constitution.

“The decision on the state of emergency will be taken next week but I would assume that, following voting on the Constitution, it will need to be extended,” she said.

The state of emergency has stalled parliamentary voting on constitutional amendments on direct mayoral elections as the Constitution cannot be amended during the state of emergency or during the martial law period.

By Milena Andrukaitytė

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Lithuanian ministers call to suspend Russia’s, Belarus’ membership in intl institutions

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – Lithuania’s Finance and Foreign Ministers Gintare Skaiste and Gabrielius Landsbergis have called on the Group of Seven (G7) countries to suspend Russia’s and Belarus’ membership in international institutions.

The ministers called inter alia for “the immediate and indefinite suspension” of those countries membership in the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group (WBG), according to a statement published on Thursday.

The ministers stated that the international community should clearly demonstrate that Russia’s and Belarus’ military aggression was not tolerated.

“Russia and Belarus cannot further have access to the resources of international financial institutions — we must prevent any possibility of redirecting these funds to the financing of the war against Ukraine,” Skaiste stressed in the statement.

“The aggressor countries also cannot participate in making decisions on financial assistance to Ukraine in supporting the country both in the short term and in rebuilding Ukraine after the war,” she pointed out.

Next week, Skaiste will talk about the suspension of Russia’s and Belarus’ membership in international financial institutions at the IMF and World Bank spring meetings in Washington.

“For its unprecedented military aggression against Ukraine, Russia must be isolated, as much as possible, in all international forums and institutions, including financial, must lose the privileges of the membership. The suspension of Russia’s membership should be a significant part of international sanctions, which would help stop the Kremlin’s war machine,” Landsbergis stated.

The Lithuanian ministers pointed out that both Russia and Belarus currently had access to Special Drawing Rights of the IMF, where Russia had accumulated SDRs worth approximately 23.9 billion US dollars, and Belarus – 1.42 billion US dollars.

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Lithuanian PM: one LNG terminal would be enough for Baltic States, but “not without risks”

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – The liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in the Lithuanian port of Klaipeda and the Incukalns underground storage facility in Latvia could suffice for the three Baltic countries to provide themselves with gas yet such a scenario would “not be without risks”, Lithuania’s Prime Minister said.

“It is necessary to assess not just the terminal but the entire infrastructure, to include Incukalns, and then the states could function in the whole package. However, such a scenario could not be convenient, it would not be a risk-free scenario that could eliminate that pressure,” Ingrida Simonyte told the Ziniu Radijas radio station on Thursday.

Simonyte stated in late March that the Klaipeda LNG terminal would not be sufficient to meet gas needs of all Baltic countries. However, Energy Minister Dainius Kreivys explained on Wednesday that she had implied the three Baltic countries together with Finland, which was part of the common market. However, Finland could replace gas with fuel oil, the minister said.

He also claimed that the capacities of the LNG terminal in Klaipeda would be sufficient for the Baltic countries in particular as Finland and Estonia planned to build their own terminal by the beginning of the heating season.

“As regards the Baltic countries, yes, the terminal is sufficient today. Considering the existing capacities, sometimes perhaps with some minor restrictions for larger users, in principle, we are definitely secure,” Kreivys said.

Latvia’s ruling coalition agreed early this week that Latvia needed its own terminal for LNG imports. It agreed in principle that the facility should be built either in Skulte or Riga and its construction should be mainly financed by private investors. The coalition admitted, however, that the LNG terminal project would take some time to implement.

Meanwhile, Estonian Minister of Economic Affairs and Infrastructure Taavi Aas and Finnish Minister of Economic Affairs Mika Lintila agreed last week that Finland and Estonia would jointly rent an LNG floating terminal, which would ensure security of gas supply in the two countries.

By Valdas Pryšmantas

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Lithuanian defmin puzzled by Russia’s talk on deployment of nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – Russia’s talk about the deployment of nuclear weapons in its exclave of Kaliningrad “looks rather strange”, given that those weapons “have always been kept in the Kaliningrad region”, Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas has said.

“They keep nuclear weapons, delivery vehicles, have warehouses there. The international community, the region’s countries are perfectly aware of that… It is a mean of intimidation,” he told BNS on Thursday.

“Russia’s current threats look rather strange in particular as we know that, leaving the current security situation aside, they keep those weapons at a distance of 100 kilometers from Lithuania’s border,” he added.

“Nuclear weapons have always been kept in the Kaliningrad region,” Anusauskas said.

Reuters on Thursday quoted Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former president and prime minister and current deputy chairman of the country’s Security Council, as saying that Sweden and Finland joining the NATO would result in Moscow going back on its commitments not to deploy nuclear weapons in the Baltic Sea region.

“There can be no more talk of any nuclear-free status for the Baltic [region] – the balance must be restored,” he said.

“Until today, Russia has not taken such measures and was not going to,” he added.

The war unleashed by Russia in Ukraine has drastically swayed the opinion of the public and policymakers in Finland and neighboring Sweden in favor of membership in defense organizations. Now the two countries mull joining NATO and may apply for membership in the Alliance in the near future.

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Lithuanian parlt grants special status to Rudninkai training area

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – Lithuanian lawmakers on Thursday granted the status of a project of special national importance in the area of national defense to the Rudninkai training area in Salcininkai District.

Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas told MPs that the presence of the training area would mean additional investment and new jobs for local residents.

The Law on the Rudninkai Training Area of the Lithuanian Armed Forces was passed with 126 votes in favor and one abstention.

Arvydas Pocius, member of parliamentary National Security and Defense Committee and former chief of defense, said that the new training area was necessary if Lithuania were to host more troops of its allies.

The training area was important for the national defense and would contribute to the implementation of the country’s strategy of deterrence, Anusauskas stressed.

“The training area is not just a territory – it is a territory that is being invested in. Certainly, it will also contribute to the promotion of local business. Investment of 26 million euros has been planned for next year and investment will in fact be made each year until the development of the entire infrastructure of the training area,” he told MPs.

The Ministry of Defense has said that the adoption of the law and the granting of the status of a project of special national importance to the Rudninkai training area would allow to substantially speed up the process of its setting up.

Military training areas in Lithuania are currently used for training both by Lithuanian troops and troops of NATO countries deployed in Lithuania but the existing training areas are deemed insufficient.

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Lithuanian defmin puzzled by Russia’s talk on deployment of nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad (expands)

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – Russia’s talk about the deployment of nuclear weapons in its exclave of Kaliningrad “looks rather strange”, given that those weapons “have always been kept in the Kaliningrad region”, Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas has said.

“They keep nuclear weapons, delivery vehicles, have warehouses there. The international community, the region’s countries are perfectly aware of that… It is a mean of intimidation,” he told BNS on Thursday.

“Russia’s current threats look rather strange in particular as we know that, leaving the current security situation aside, they keep those weapons at a distance of 100 kilometers from Lithuania’s border,” he added.

“Nuclear weapons have always been kept in the Kaliningrad region,” Anusauskas said.

Russia’s threats

Russia made its new threats in response to reports that Sweden and Finland were considering joining NATO amid Moscow’s military invasion of Ukraine.

Reuters on Thursday quoted Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s former president and prime minister and current deputy chairman of the country’s Security Council, as saying that Sweden and Finland joining the NATO would result in Moscow going back on its commitments not to deploy nuclear weapons in the Baltic Sea region.

“There can be no more talk of any nuclear-free status for the Baltic [region] – the balance must be restored,” he said.

“Until today, Russia has not taken such measures and was not going to,” he added.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte stressed that the region of Kaliningrad “has already been a very militarized zone for many years”.

“And Russia making threats is nothing new,” she told reporters in the Seimas on Thursday.

“Does not have effective tools”

Despite Russia’s threats, Simonyte said that Finland and Sweden joining NATO would enhance the Baltic Sea region’s security.

“That support, which we see, that unprecedented support, first of all in Finland, but also in Sweden, where more than half of people are in favor of NATO membership, I think, it is … a game changer for us, the security of the Baltic Sea region,” she told the Ziniu Radijas radio station on Thursday.

“I think it is necessary to open the map and look at the Baltic Sea. Then you will understand how it is important that virtually all countries around the Baltic Sea become members of one defense Alliance,” Simonyte pointed out.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis stated that Russia’s threats were abstract.

“It is not yet clear what those new forces would be: either it would be the enhancement of existing troops or some replacements,” he said.

Nonetheless, the minister stressed that Russia did not have “effective tools” to respond to potential accession to NATO by Sweden and Finland.

“Considering the scale, how the joining of NATO by Finland and Sweden would change the security situation of the Baltic region, Russia does not have effective tools for that,” he said.

Russia would always have explanations for its actions, whatever those might be, Landsbergis said. He stressed that such statements “should be taken seriously”.

According to him, such rhetoric by Russia is yet another proof that it is necessary for NATO to review and update “the defense strategy of the Baltic region … by assessing the factor of the Suwalki corridor”.

The war unleashed by Russia in Ukraine has drastically swayed the opinion of the public and policymakers in Finland and neighboring Sweden in favor of membership in defense organizations. Now the two countries mull joining NATO and may apply for membership in the Alliance in the near future.

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Border guards let 4 foreigners under ECHR protection enter Lithuania

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – Lithuanian border guards on Wednesday allowed four foreigners who are subject to the European Court of Human Rights' interim measures to enter Lithuania from Belarus.

They were checked by medics and found to have no health risks, Rokas Pukinskas, spokesman for the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service, told reporters on Thursday.

"At the moment the persons are at one of the SBGS units. The results of their COVID-19 tests are also pending, and the issue of the foreigners' temporary accommodation will be addressed later. The foreigners have applied for asylum," he said, adding that he could not provide any more information about the persons.

NGOs claim that Lithuanian border guards on Saturday night turned away four Cuban nationals under the ECHR interim measures. The SBGS then said the decision was made because the persons in question „did not have documents that would give them the right to stay in Lithuania".

Later, the SBGS said it had received the ECHR decision on interim measures and that it would be implemented, but speaking with BNS, Pukinskas didn’t confirm that the decision was made specifically regarding the Cubans in question.

He said he could not confirm this information on Thursday either.

The ECHR ruling states that the four Cubans are subject to interim measures until May 6.

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Lithuanian PM regrets diplomatic tensions between Ukraine, Germany

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – Being at war with Russia, Ukraine has the right to sharp rhetoric with respect to Germany yet it is regrettable that it has to criticize a strategic partner, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte has said.

“Ukraine’s people are currently dying in this war and, to tell the truth, this gives Ukraine’s leadership and its president the right to assess the situation in a way they consider proper and necessary and even to use sharp rhetoric. It is regrettable, however, that we now see such a situation where they have to make such a remark to someone who is seemingly a strategic partner,” she said.

Diplomatic tensions between Kyiv and Berlin have arisen due to Germany being slow to tighten sanctions against Moscow by giving up its gas as well as due to Berlin being indecisive as to the supply of certain German weapons.

Tensions rose further this week after Kyiv said that a visit to Ukraine by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier was not welcome right now and called on German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to come to Kyiv instead as he was in a position to “take direct practical decisions, including weapons deliveries”.

Simonyte added in her turn that “the interests of the industry and business have a clear priority” in Germany and were important to all major parties.

“And later the leaders of some parties even find a job in those Russian concerns, which, I would say, is almost an example of corruption,” she said.

The Lithuanian prime minister stressed that it was the German society that had to pressure its government into making decisions as it would be the society that would be affected by the termination of Russian gas imports.

On the other hand, Simonyte pointed out that Lithuania had to be grateful to Germany for its security.

“Forward presence forces deployed in Lithuania are led by Germany. Hence we also have to be grateful to Germany for our security situation, for our defendability,” she said.

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Some 100 extra US troops with Paladin artillery systems arrive in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – Some 100 additional US troops with Paladin artillery systems arrived in Lithuania on Thursday, the Lithuanian army said on today.

Troops from the 1st Battalion from the US Pennsylvania National Guard's 109th Field Artillery Regiment arrived in Lithuania on Thursday morning with combat equipment, it said.

"This unit will reinforce the existing US rotational capability in Lithuania. The unit will include a battery of 155mm M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers and more than 100 other vehicles," the army said.

The troops will join the US rotational battalion currently deployed in Lithuania and having around 600 troops with tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and short-range air defense systems.

Army representatives told BNS the incoming unit has a total of about 10 Paladin howitzers. The military equipment was transported by rail to the General Silvestras Zukauskas training area in Svencionys Dstrict where the US unit will be based.

Once there, the troops will take part in an international live-fire exercise in the Pabrade training area in May, together with troops from Lithuania and other countries.

US troops are currently stationed in Lithuania on a rotational basis but Lithuanian politicians want permanent American presence and are asking NATO and the US to ensure effective air defense in the region.

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Lithuania tests functioning of secure network in crisis situation – DefMin

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – Lithuanian authorities tested the functioning of the existing secure public data transmission network in a crisis situation involving the disruption of international internet services, the Ministry of Defense reported on Thursday.

The test, which was carried out in order to step up Lithuania’s resilience to cyber incidents, was organized by the Core State Telecommunications Center (KVTC) early this week.

“Such tests, which are carried out by actually switching off international internet services instead of desktop training, are important for assessing the resilience of the country’s information resources, its cyber security and autonomous functioning in such circumstances, for evaluating the potential for electronic information exchange between key public institutions,” the press release from the ministry quoted Deputy Defense Minister Margiris Abukevicius as saying.

The test involved the assessment of possibilities of public and municipal institutions, which use the services of the secure network and are charged with vital state functions, to use information resources and communicate with other institutions using the network in the event of a crisis.

The secure network is separate from public communications networks; it must function in the event of a crisis or a war and ensure the continuity of operations of the country’s key institutions.

The users of the network include institutions charged with functions during emergencies, natural disasters, mobilization, war and other critical events.

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Court orders Ryanair to pay EUR 600,000 to ex-employees in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS - Irish low-cost airline Ryanair must pay more than 600,000 euros to its ten former employees in Lithuania for unlawful dismissal, a Lithuanian court has ruled.

Kaunas District Court considered a lawsuit filed by the dismissed employees against Ryanair's subsidiaries, Ireland's Ryanair Designated Activity Company and Poland's Ryanair Sun.

All the plaintiffs are Lithuanian residents, Vaiva Milkeraitiene, the media and PR assistant to the Kaunas court's president, confirmed it to BNS.

The employees were dismissed in June, 2020 on the employer's initiative when their functions became redundant, the court statement reads. The claimants argued that they were unlawfully dismissed because they should have been transferred to the Polish company under the same conditions following the transfer of the business.

The Irish company maintained there had been no transfer of the business and that the applicants had been dismissed because they had committed a serious breach of the work discipline by failing to come to work after their transfer to Stansted Airport. The employees claimed tat they had not agreed to the transfer to London.

The court partially upheld the claim, saying that the business transfer had in fact taken place and that the workers had been dismissed without their fault, in breach of the Labor Code.

"As the transfer of part of the business was found to have taken place, joint solidarity liability of the defendants (the Irish and Polish companies - BNS) is applicable," it said.

The court also pointed out that the employees were required to live within an hour's drive from Kaunas Airport, and they settled or lived in Lithuania for many years, had families and young children.

The court's decision of March 29 can still be appealed.

By Valdas Pryšmantas

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Lithuanian president calls Russia's nuclear threats "an empty shot in the air"

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS - Russia's recent threats to deploy nuclear weapons in the Baltic region, if Sweden or Finland join NATO, are "an empty shot in the air", Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says.

"I don't know whether it's possible to redeploy what is essentially deployed (...) Nuclear weapons are deployed in Kaliningrad. Not strategic ones, but they are deployed, and in this case such threats are an empty shot in the air", the president told reporters on Thursday, stressing that Russia would not decide the fate of other states.

"They will decide for themselves whether they want to join NATO – whether Sweden wants to do it, or Finland, or Ukraine. It will be a matter for them to decide and the NATO alliance will consider such applications and make decisions", Nauseda said.

Ex-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, now deputy head of Russia's National Security Council, warned on Thursday that Russia would deploy nuclear weapons near the Baltic states and Scandinavia, if Finland or Sweden decided to join NATO.

Speaking earlier on Thursday, Lithuanian National Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said Russia's consideration of deploying nuclear weapons in Kaliningrad "seems rather strange" as they "have always been kept in the Kaliningrad region".

Moscow's military actions in Ukraine have sparked a dramatic change of opinion among Finnish and Swedish populations and politicians over their long-standing policy of military non-alignment.

Finland said this week it would decide "within weeks" whether to apply to join NATO. Sweden also mulls joining the Alliance.

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Intl community backs tribunal over Russian aggression – Lithuanian president

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS - The international community supports the establishment of a special tribunal to ensure that the leaders of Russia and Belarus are held criminally responsible for the military aggression in Ukraine, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says.

"The support is undoubtedly there," he told reporters on Thursday without specifying when such a tribunal could be established.

"It's very important to collect evidence and information that would not leave the slightest doubt who the criminal is here and what evidence of that exists," Nauseda said.

It will be more difficult to do so in the future, he stressed, as the Kremlin forces are changing their tactics and are "no longer leaving certain traces they left in Borodyanka, in Bucha".

Ukraine reported at the end of last week that more than 1,200 bodies had been found in Bucha and around Kyiv, most of the people having been brutally murdered.

Earlier on Thursday, Latvian President Egils Levits expressed support for the initiative to create a special tribunal.

In early March, Lithuanian Justice Minister Evelina Dobrovolska sent an official letter to the European Commission's Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders and to EU justice ministers on the establishment of such a court.

The International Criminal Court is already in the process of investigating war crimes and crimes against humanity. However, the minister said, the question of criminal responsibility for the international crime of aggression remains, and this could be resolved by a special tribunal set up for this purpose.

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President asks Lithuanian businesses to help to rebuild Ukraine

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS - Lithuanian businesses could help Ukraine to rebuild the country, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says.

"The kind of ongoing work very clearly demonstrates that, and yesterday the prime minister (Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal – BNS) also made it clear that they already need equipment to help clear the rubble," Nauseda told reporters on Thursday after returning to Vilnius from Kyiv.

The president asked the Lithuanian construction industry to consider taking part and using special equipment to clear the rubble in Ukraine.

"I would like to appeal to our businesses, to our construction sector, and ask them to think about how we could help the Ukrainians in this area, with this kind of equipment," Nauseda said, adding that this would help to contribute to the reconstruction of the war-torn country.

By Valdas Pryšmantas

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Lithuanian president warns EU states have hopes for post-war ties with Russia

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS - Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has warned some EU states not to have high hopes of resuming "normal" post-war cooperation with Russia.

The president also says Lithuania has demonstrated to the whole of Europe that it's possible to give up Russian gas quickly, doubting, however, that other countries on the continent could do so quickly. 

"Lithuania wanted to set an example that it can be done – it can be done quickly enough, but we need to have no illusion of what I hear today in certain speeches and that showing that there's still some hope for cooperation with Russia. I hear again the sentiment that we will return to normal cooperation when the war is over," Nauseda told a press conference in Vilnius on Thursday, held following his recent visit to Kyiv.

According to Nauseda, resumption of dialogue with Russia is possible only after a regime change.

"Let's not be fooled and let's s understand that without a regime change, the very essence of the regime, that dialogue will be one-sided, and the other side will use it to manipulate, deceive and otherwise fool Western leaders. Let'ss not put ourselves in such a position", Nauseda said.

He does not believe that some European countries will be able to swiftly cut their dependence on Russian gas as it has so far been increasing rather than decreasing.

By Valdas Pryšmantas

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Ukraine needs heavy military equipment, missile systems – Lithuanian president

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS - Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, who returned from Kyiv on Thursday, urged Western countries to provide Ukraine with heavy military equipment and missile systems.

"We must, first of all, talk about the assistance to Ukraine from countries like the United States, the UK and France as if we had to prioritize in this way, then heavy equipment, heavy missile systems are Ukraine's number one priority," the president told reporters, adding that with Western countries' help, the Ukrainian forces are "quite well equipped with other weapons".

Nauseda says the goal will be to have NATO involved in coordinating the supply of these weapons.

"These things have to be coordinated at the NATO level", he said.

Nauseda visited Ukraine together with his Polish, Latvian and Estonian counterparts. During the visit, he said, arms for to equip a brigade-sized unit as well as ammunition for that purpose were delivered to Ukraine.

No ticking over

The Lithuanian president also underlined that disagreement among Western countries on sanctions for Russia was "good news" for Moscow as it continues its invasion of Ukraine.

The EU is now debating an energy embargo for the Kremlin, with some EU countries categorically objecting. Hungary, which is particularly dependent on Russian energy resources, has recently been the main obstacle to a joint EU solution, with diplomats saying that the German, Austrian and Italian governments also have reservations about sanctions.

"Let's make it so that there's no good news for Russia, so that it receives on only bad news. (...) It's very important that we do not tick over or make millimeter-long decisions in terms of sanctions. We need to make decisions that will have some consequences in the near future", Nauseda said.

In his words, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's all hopes are now "focused on decisions that we can make as a family of states".

Stressing that Lithuania had done "what was in our power", he once again reiterated his call on the EU to grant Kyiv candidate status as soon as possible.

Ukraine's chances of joining the EU are currently being assessed by the European Commission.

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Lithuanian FM issues warning as Belarus offers visa-free visits

VILNIUS, Apr 14, BNS – Lithuania's Foreign Ministry is urging people not to travel to Belarus despite reports of the possibility to visit the country visa-free.

"The recommendation not to visit Belarus is still valid in Lithuania. First of all, because of the country's action against its own citizens, but also because of its involvement in Russia's military aggression in Ukraine," Vytaute Smaizyte-Kuliesiene, spokeswoman for the foreign minister, told BNS on Thursday.

Vilnius has not received any official information from Minsk regarding the possibility for Lithuanian citizens to visit the country without visas, she underlined.

The Belarusian border service announced on Thursday that Latvian and Lithuanian citizens would be able to enter the country visa-free for a month in view of the upcoming Orthodox and Catholic religious festivals. People will reportedly be able to cross the Belarusian border with Latvia and Lithuania without visas through border crossing points from April 15 to May 15.

Also, as reported, people will be able to make multiple visits, visit to the whole territory of Belarus and will not require permits to visit the border area but will only be required to notify border guards of such intentions in advance.

In response to these reports, the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs also advised its citizens on Thursday not to do so.

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Friday, April 15, 2022

VILNIUS, Apr 15, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Friday, April 15, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to meet with NATIONAL DEFENSE MINISTER Arvydas Anusauskas and CHIEF OF DEFENSE Valdemaras Rupsys at 10 a.m.

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to chair a meeting of the Board of the Seimas at 10 a.m.; to meet with Vydas Gedvilas, president of the Lithuanian Basketball Federation, at 1 p.m.

HEALTH MINISTRY

Lithuanian medics to leave for Ukraine.

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