Lithuania is the largest of the three Baltic States and is the eastern boundary of the European Union with the Commonwealth of Independent States. It sits astride both sea and land routes connecting North to South and East to West, with Poland and the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation on one side and Belarus on the other. Ethnically more homogenous than the other Baltic States, 83.6 percent of Lithuania’s population of approximately 2.7 million people is ethnically Lithuanian. Approximately 6.6 percent are Polish and 5.8 percent Russian.
Lithuania claimed its independence from the Soviet Union when the new, democratically elected Supreme Council voted on March 11, 1990, to reestablish the Lithuanian Republic. The collapse of the Moscow coup in August 1991 led to international, including Russian, recognition of Lithuania's independence. Lithuania became a state party to the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (which later became the OSCE) in 1991, the first international organization it joined after independence. Accession to NATO and the European Union in 2004 cemented Lithuania's commitment to democracy and market economics.
Lithuania is particularly concerned with what it perceives as a security threat from Russia on the heels of Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, its military involvement in eastern Ukraine, and its complaints that Russian minorities in the Baltics face discriminatory conditions similar to those in Ukraine. In July 2019, the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Lithuania, Raimundas Karoblis, testified during the Commission’s first international field hearing in Gdansk, Poland, on the topic of Baltic Sea regional security.
Staff Contact: Alex Tiersky, senior policy advisor