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Country Reports
LITHUANIA, Landmine Monitor Report 2000
LM Report 2000 Full Report   Executive Summary   Key Findings   Key Developments   Translated Country Reports


Mine Ban Policy

On signing the Mine Ban Treaty (MBT) on 26 February 1999, Lithuania stated in a declaration at the time, “The Republic of Lithuania...declares that ratification of the Convention will take place as soon as relevant conditions relating to the implementation of the provisions of the Convention are fulfilled.”[1]

Lithuania participated in the First Meeting of States Parties (FMSP) to the MBT in Mozambique in May 1999. The Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs told the plenary, “The entry into force of the anti-personnel mine ban convention was a milestone event. This convention is a successful chapter of the conventional disarmament process, but, first and foremost, this is a victory of humanitarian consideration over military doctrines.... It is true that military doctrines have to be adapted and APLs destroyed.... Having signed the Ottawa Treaty, Lithuania recognizes the obligation to put an end to the suffering caused by APLs and will work towards ratification of the Convention. Apparently, the ratification is not so distant future simply because we have never produced, used, imported, exported anti-personnel mines or traded in them.”[2]

In a report to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe in December 1999, Lithuania said it “intends to accede...in the future, taking into account accession to and ratification by neighboring countries in the region.”[3]

As with other Baltic countries, the necessary preconditions for ratification of the MBT focus on the regional security context. As an official from the Ministry of Defense said, “Lithuania recognizes that AP mines are a barbaric arm and shall be eliminated from the arsenals.... The negative attitude of Lithuanian neighbors towards the ban is also to be taken into account.” [4]

The Foreign Ministry adds that ratification would be more straightforward if there was more coordination between countries in the Baltic region.[5] Concerns about national security are based on the Baltic countries’ shared history of recent invasion and occupation, and present-day uncertainty particularly with regard to Russia. It appears that the possession of antipersonnel mines provides a sense of security out of proportion to the numbers stockpiled.

At the same time, the Foreign Ministry states that it considers Lithuania to be bound (under Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties) to refrain from all acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the MBT.[6]

Lithuania has not attended any of the MBT intersessional meetings in Geneva. In December 1999 it voted in favor of UN General Assembly Resolution 54/54B urging full implementation of the MBT. The Foreign Ministry welcomed Landmine Monitor Report 1999 as a “notably valuable and comprehensive source of information on anti-APL policy, practise and plans world-wide. It is a credible source, open to broad general public. Most notably, LM Monitor has served its purpose, that is to stir up public attention and action on the issues that hitherto were confined to exclusively governmental establishment.”[7]

Lithuania is a party to Amended Protocol II (Landmines) of the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW). The government attended the First Annual Conference of the States Parties to the Amended Protocol II in Geneva in December 1999, and has submitted its required Article 13 transparency report. It is not a member of the Conference on Disarmament.

Lithuania would like to cooperate more with Western countries in the search for alternatives to antipersonnel mines, which is considered too costly to engage in alone. There is some assistance provided by the Canadian Embassy in Vilnius. But any search for alternatives is said to be unconnected with ratification of the MBT.[8]

Production, Transfer and Stockpile

Lithuania has stated on many occasions, including at the FMSP in May 1999, that it does not produce, use, import or export AP mines.[9] Production of all articles of military application is subject to license. No licenses for the import or export of AP mines have been granted or applied for since Lithuania's independence in 1990.[10] However, this statement appears to be qualified by the Ministry of Defense statement in early 1999 that existing stocks of AP mines were obtained in the early 1990s from the Soviet Union.[11]

On 1 September 1998 a two-year moratorium on the export of AP mines was enacted, in order to contribute to the elimination of AP mines worldwide and harmonize Lithuania's position with that of the EU.[12] Lithuania borders Belarus and the heavily militarized Kaliningrad region of Russia (which is enclosed by Lithuania and Poland, therefore has to be accessed by land across Lithuanian territory). Earlier agreements to allow the transfer through Lithuania of Russian military equipment have been extended; checks are made and Lithuanian military accompany all such convoys; whether AP mines have formed part of these transfers has not been ascertained.[13]

The Foreign Ministry says that the precise number of AP mines may not be disclosed under the Law on State Secrets which entered into force on 1 January 2000, but described the number as a mere fraction of what is deemed to be the minimum under the MBT, and kept in stockpiles exclusively for mine clearance training and demonstration purposes.[14]

Landmine Problem and Mine Clearance

Lithuania is not facing very serious problems with landmines and UXO left from military operations during World War II, though these “remnants of war” from World War II are described as rather commonplace finds. There are no maps available showing contamination with explosives, and Lithuania does not have a national mine clearance plan.[15]

In recent years special units have been formed, and deminers are equipped with Shebel, Valun (Austrian), MSG-75 (German), IMP and RVM (Russian) mine detectors. A military engineering school has been founded in Kaunas which will serve the demining and EOD (exoplosive ordnance disposal) needs of the Baltic region; in the initial phase Danish assistance is involved.[16] There has been international cooperation on mine clearance. Partners included the 871st U.S. Engineer Battalion, Swedish Mine Clearance Training Center, Danish Engineers and Chemical Defense School, German War Engineers School, ENTEC (NATO technical training center), and the 15th Polish Mine Clearance Battalion. The Lithuanian armed forces have received technical assistance from Denmark, Sweden and Germany.[17]

Research and Development

In 1994, the Institutes of the Lithuanian Academy of Science and several private companies formed a technological base to create high-tech systems for underground investigations, including mine detection. In the former Soviet Union, Lithuania was one of the centers of R&D for high-speed electronics. The former Vilnius Scientific Research Institute of Radio-Measurement Devices was the main developer of radio-measurement techniques for the whole of the Soviet Union. Scientists formerly working at this Institute have formed private companies and continued the development of Ground Penetrating Radar; the products of these companies are presently exported to the United States, the Netherlands, Poland, Finland, China and Russia.[18]

Mine Casualties and Survivor Assistance

Landmine victims (mostly elderly people injured in World War II and a few from the Afghan war) receive social support as disabled persons.[19] There are some nongovernmental organizations, the Veterans Union, and the Charity Fund of Afghan Veterans, where war veterans can get assistance. There is active cooperation with similar organizations in Belarus, and joint meetings and rehabilitation in a special center in Vitebsk, Belarus. There are about 1,500 Afghanistan war veterans in Lithuania, including 824 in Vilnius, with fifty-eight injured veterans (including landmine victims) in Vilnius alone.[20]


[1] Interview with Dainius Baublys, Political Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vilnius, 18 February 2000.
[2] Intervention by Dr. Rokas Bernotas, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, to the First Meeting of States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty, Maputo, 4 May 1999.
[3] Report of the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Lithuania to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, 1 December 1999.
[4] Telephone conversation and interview with Andrius Krivas, Director of the Department of International Relations, Ministry of Defense, Vilnius, 20 January 1999.
[5] Interview with Dainius Baublys, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vilnius, 18 February 2000.
[6] Ibid.
[7] Letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 12 January 2000.
[8] Interview with Tomas Urbonas and Paulius Dranseika, Policy Planning Department, Ministry of Defense, Vilnius, 18 February 2000.
[9] Letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 12 January 2000.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Telephone conversation and interview with Andrius Krivas, Ministry of Defense, Vilnius, 20 January 1999.
[12] Joint Action of the EU 97/817/CFSP and EU Code of Conduct on Arms Exports, 8 June 1998.
[13] Interview with Dainius Baublys, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vilnius, January 1999; emails and telephone interview with Tomas Urbonas, Ministry of Defense, 18 February and 10 May 2000.
[14] Letter from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 12 January 2000.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Interview with Tomas Urbonas, Ministry of Defense, Vilnius, 18 February 2000.
[17] Lithuanian National Report under Article 13 of CCW Amended Protocol II, 25 October 1999.
[18] Interview with Saulius Balevicius, Director of the Semiconductor Physics Institute, Vilnius, 18 February 2000; further information on these systems is available from the Landmine Monitor researcher: igors@latnet.lv or Igors.Tipans@rtu.lv.
[19] Interview Dainius Baublys, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vilnius, 20 January 1999.
[20] Telephone interview with Alexander Litvinenko, Head of the Charity Fund, 5 May 2000.