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LITHUANIA, Landmine Monitor Report 1999


Mine Ban Policy

On 26 February 1999, the Lithuanian Ambassador to the United Nations, Mr. Justys, signed the Mine Ban Treaty in New York. Along with its signature, Lithuania made the following formal declaration: “The Republic of Lithuania subscribes to the principles and purposes of the [Convention] and declares that ratification of the Convention will take place as soon as the relevant conditions relating to implementation of [the] provisions of the Convention are fulfilled.” Lithuania attended all the Treaty preparatory meetings of the Ottawa Process, but did not endorse the pro-treaty Brussels Declaration in June 1997, came to the Oslo negotiations only as an observer, and did not sign the treaty when it opened for signature in Ottawa in December 1997. However, Lithuania did vote for the pro-ban UN General Assembly resolutions in 1996, 1997, and 1998. In September 1998, President Valdas Adamkus had stated, “Ratification of the Convention on the Prohibition of Antipersonnel Mines is our long-term goal.”[1] A Foreign Ministry official said in January 1999 that Lithuania would likely sign the treaty, taking into account signature to and ratification of the treaty by neighboring countries in the region.[2]

Also in January 1999, an official at the Ministry of Defense said:

“Lithuania recognizes that APMs are a barbaric arm and shall be eliminated from the arsenals. At the same time Lithuania is just now forming its army, and mines obtained during the first years of independence cannot be destroyed only for support of ideas. At this time safe storage and use is secured by corresponding measures taken by Lithuanian armed forces. There are technical problems to get all the documents relevant to the landmine issue, including translation into Lithuanian. The negative attitude of neighbors (Belarus, Russia) towards the ban is also to be taken into account. Lithuania has neighbors who have said they will ratify only after all Security Council members have joined the ban. Today it is hard to refuse of the tactical use of landmines, since it forms a significant part of the Lithuanian defense potential (which is small anyway). There is a long time period needed to replace antipersonal mines with other weapon systems, retraining of ground force personnel for the use of such other weapon systems, and revision of military doctrine.”[3]

On 3 June 1998 Lithuania ratified the Convention on Conventional Weapons, including amended Protocol II on mines. It was the twentieth state to deposit its instrument of ratification of amended Protocol II, thereby triggering its entry into force.

Production, Transfer, Stockpiling, Use

Lithuania has not produced antipersonnel mines. Its existing stock of Soviet mines were obtained in the early 1990s. According to information provided by the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, Lithuania has never exported antipersonnel mines.[4] The legal basis for that is a Lithuanian law of 5 July 1995 on transit, import and export of strategic goods and technologies. The list of strategic goods includes landmines. The Ministry of Economics together with the Fund of Arms issues licenses for strategic goods, and such licenses were never issued for antipersonnel mines.

On 1 September 1998, Lithuania passed a two-year moratorium on the export of APMs. The decision was passed with the aim to contribute to the global political and practical efforts to eliminate APMs worldwide and to harmonize Lithuania's position with that of the EU (Joint Action of the EU 97/817/CFSP and the EU code of Conduct on Arms Exports, June 8,1998).

In the beginning of the 1990's when Lithuania regained its independence, a special Protocol was signed between Lithuania and Russia on Russian military transit through Lithuanian territory. The Protocol has expired, but the Lithuanian government has extended the agreement by corresponding diplomatic statements. Russian military transit has been regulated by defining the amount and type of such military transits, and under the condition that arms are transferred through Lithuanian territory separately from military personnel; any transit is accompanied by Lithuanian military convoy.[5] According to the information provided by a Lithuanian Defense Ministry representative, as a result of the Lithuanian-Russian agreement, it is possible that Russian antipersonnel mines are transferred through Lithuanian territory.[6]

There are stockpiles of APMs in Lithuania. A Foreign Ministry official said the size of the stockpile will be made public only after Lithuania ratifies the Mine Ban Treaty, but also said that the number of APMs now in stock corresponds to the amounts allowed in the treaty for training purposes.[7]

Landmine Problem and Mine Action

Rather frequently, unexploded ammunition, including landmines from WWII, is found in Lithuania. Large numbers of explosives are in Rukla, not far from Kaunas. The Lithuanian army has 50 demining specialists. The Army brigade, "Gelezinis Vilkas," has an engineering platoon in each battalion. The Lithuanian unit of IASFOR within the Danish battalion has well trained demining specialists with experience in Bosnia. There are special vehicles for transportation of explosives available. Lithuania has sufficient equipment to destroy all explosives in Lithuanian soil.[8] In January 1999 Lithuania suggested its experts could participate in international mine clearance projects.[9]

There are no awareness education programs in Lithuania. There has been one casualty reported in Lithuanian armed forces; Lieutenant Valteris received fatal injuries during his mission in Bosnia. There is a plan to establish a medical battalion which would have specially trained persons to deal with mine injuries.[10] Landmine victims (mostly elder people, who got their injuries during the WWII and a few who participated in the Afghan war) are receiving support determined by Lithuanian laws for the disabled.[11] Lithuania is planning to contribute to the UN Voluntary Trust Fund for Assistance in Mine Clearance.[12]


[1]Speech of Vladas Adamkus, President of Lithuania, to the Fifty-third Session of the UN General Assembly, September 1998.

[2]Interview with Dainius Baublys, Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, Vilnius, 22 January 1999.

[3]Telephone conversation and interview with Andrius Krivas, Lithuanian Ministry of Defense, Vilnius, 20 January 1999.



[6]Interview with Andrius Krivas, 22 January 1999.

[7]Interview with Dainius Baublys, 22 January 1999.



[10]Interview with Andrius Krivas, 22 January 1999.

[11]Interview with Dainius Baublys, 22 January 1999.