The trust of residents of Lithuania in the Lithuanian Armed Forces and in military service is continuously growing, and NATO membership is viewed in a highly positive light. Such trends in public opinion have been found by a poll conducted at the request of the Ministry of National Defence in December last year.
According to the poll data, the trust in the Armed Forces is at its highest since 2014 reaching 74% of Lithuanian residents. It is more by 1% as compared to the last year, while the number of respondents claiming they do not trust the Armed Forces has dropped by as much as 6%.
Appreciation of the career military service has grown significantly making it 79% of respondents speaking in favor of it – and 7% more than last year. 29% of the respondents view the career military service “very favorably”. The approval of a decision of someone close to volunteer for the Continuous Mandatory Initial Military Service has increased among respondents by 1% to 66% as well.
“The great majority of the country residents trust the Lithuanian Armed Forces and have a positive opinion about military career service – such a strong public mandate is vital. Our national defence system is improving and the Armed Forces is becoming stronger – and the people of Lithuania can see it,” says Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas.
The Lithuanian Armed Forces’ contribution to the efforts to manage the irregular migration crisis caused by the hybrid aggression by the Belarusian regime is also viewed favorable: 69% of respondents agree that the assistance rendered by the Armed Forces in the border area is sufficient.
Support to allied presence and military assistance to Ukraine
Lithuanian residents continue having a particularly positive view of NATO membership: it is endorsed by 89% of respondents (2% more than last year). A positive trend can be spotted: 37% of respondents view the NATO membership “completely favorably” , it is 8% more than the number as last year.
88% of respondents support allied presence on the territory of Lithuania (5% more than last year). The United States of America and Germany whose military personnel is deployed to Pabradė and Rukla are most often named among other countries as Lithuania’s strategic partners.
“The U.S. military personnel who are now training in the new facility, camp Herkus, built for them and other allies, have been deployed to Lithuania since 2014 as part of the U.S. Army Operation in the eastern part of the Alliance, Atlantic Resolve, while Germany is the framework nation and largest contribution to the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group in Rukla. The people of Lithuania understand that allied presence in our country is the best deterrence there can be and a security guarantor for the entire region,” says Minister A. Anušauskas.
78% of respondents agree that the NATO eFP BG Lithuania deters aggressive states and 81% agree that training and exercises of the United States and other allies in Lithuania enhance the readiness to defend Lithuania and deter aggressive actions.
Lithuania’s participation in international operations also has public support: 78% of respondents think that Lithuanian troops should be deployed if NATO allies require. The Seimas of the Republic of Lithuania mandated sending up to 323 military and civilian personnel of the National Defence System to international operations in2022–2023.
74% of respondents uphold that Lithuania should defence or render military assistance to NATO allies in case they are in a military conflict. 62% of respondents tend to approve of Lithuania’s military assistance to Ukraine which is viewed as one of the closest friends to Lithuania in Europe, alongside Latvia, Poland, Germany and Estonia, while Poland, Germany and the U.S. are most often named as Lithuania’s strategic partners.
Support to increasing defence spending and awareness of threats posed by Russia and Belarus
The poll data reveals that the support of the Lithuanian people to increasing defence budget has grown as well. 71% of respondents agree that 2% of GDP should be appropriated for national defence. That is 5% more than the percentage of supportive respondents last year.
The number of supporters of reaching a 2.5% of GDP defence budget by 2030 has grown by 10% even over the year – the idea is currently supported by 47% of respondents. That is the defence spending limit endorsed in the Lithuanian parliamentary party agreement on the Lithuanian defence policy guidelines signed in the autumn of 2018.
The part of the budget appropriated for defence will enable further implementation of the major priority projects that increase the combat power of the Lithuanian Armed Forces and correspond to the geopolitical situation and potential threats. The priority remains the same: modernization and development of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, U.S. and other allies’ force deployments in Lithuania, public resilience, stronger cybersecurity, better military service conditions, and more.
“The increasing approval among the Lithuanian people to the defence budget increase demonstrates their understanding of the current security threats and the need to respond to them by strengthening our capabilities, says Minister of National Defence A. Anušauskas and notes that the ability of the people to recognize disinformation , information attacks and fake news is also improving.
The number of respondents stating they are always able to recognize information attacks or misleading information has grown by 10% through the year to 58%.
The Lithuanian people also continue being aware of the information influence from Russia: 65% say that Russia deliberately impacts Lithuanian residents aiming to alter their views. Even more, 68% of respondents agree that Russia and Belarus are conducting hybrid attacks in order to destabilize EU and NATO members.
47% of respondents think that Lithuanian authorities are ensuring cybersecurity successfully.
The public opinion poll was conducted at the request of the Ministry of National Defence on 16–29 December 2021 by Spinter Tyrimai market and public opinion research company.