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Lithuanian people have confidence in the Lithuanian Armed Forces, are especially favourable to NATO presence in Lithuania

The population of Lithuania have confidence in the Lithuanian Armed Forces and are favourable to it, they have a very positive view on the presence of NATO allies in the country and welcome the increase of the national defence budget, shows a public opinion poll carried out by request of the Ministry of National Defence in December 2020 by Spinter Research, market and public opinion research company.

“It is very important that the majority of the Lithuanian population have confidence in the Lithuanian Armed Forces and also a positive view on Lithuania’s membership in NATO, as well as the presence of NATO allies on the Lithuanian territory. The increase of the national defence budget, collective defence commitments, and deployments of Lithuanian military to international operations are also met with a growing people’s approval. Lithuania has been consistently investing in modernisation of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, strengthening of Alliance bonds, and has managed to earn a steadfast support of NATO allies. Public support to the Armed Forces demonstrate a public understanding of security threats and appreciation of the Alliance’s initiatives to enhance regional security,” Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas summed up the poll results.

Minister also points out the increasing ability of the public to recognise disinformation, information attacks and fake news, even though that is more usually seen among young people. “Beyond doubt, we would like to have a better public resilience, on the other hand, 36 percent of respondents don’t agree that Lithuanian authorities ensure cyber security properly,” A. Anušauskas says.

Confidence in the national military remains high and grows further

According to the poll data, the Lithuanian people have a particularly high and continuously growing confidence in the Lithuanian Armed Forces – 73 percent, 3 percent points more than in 2019, of the population say they have confidence in the Lithuanian military. 72 percent of the respondents have a favourable view on a military profession.

Results of the poll also show that 65 percent of the respondents would support a friend’s or family member’s decision to undergo the mandatory initial military service voluntarily, it is more than in 2019 by 4 percent points. 58 percent of the respondents would support the decision of someone significant to them to join the professional military service.

The ability of the Lithuanian population to recognise information attacks and misleading information has increased by 7 percent as compared to 2019. 48 percent of the respondents said they could recognise information attacks and misleading information, 9 percent they were able to identify it in every case and 39 percent – most usually.

A new question was included into the poll to check the public opinion about the ability of public authorities to provide cybersecurity. It has been found that 46 percent of the respondents think that the public authorities of Lithuania ensure cybersecurity properly.

The Lithuanian Armed Forces was rendering assistance to different civilian and internal service agencies as part of its longest domestic support operation (which included tasks and functions quite foreign to armed services) ever carried in Lithuania. The poll respondents were asked to evaluate the assistance rendered by the Lithuanian Armed Forces during the COVID-19 pandemic, 62 percent of them think it was sufficient. Female respondents and persons with higher education and higher income expressed a more positive opinion about the assistance from the military.

NATO membership and presence of allied forces in Lithuania viewed highly favourably

87 percent of the responders were in favour of Lithuania’s NATO membership and it is the highest result of favourable opinion over the last five years. Another 83 percent of the poll respondents supported allied presence in Lithuania’s territory.

75 percent of the respondents uphold that the German-led multinational NATO battalion deployed in Lithuania since 2017 helps to deter hostile countries. The multinational high readiness combat capabilities have been deployed for deterrence and defence purposes not only in Lithuania but also the other Baltic states and Poland since 2017 as a result of changed security situation in the region.

77 percent of the respondents agree that continuous military exercises of the U.S and other allies in Lithuania improve our readiness for territorial defence and deter hostile actions.

72 percent of the respondents think that Lithuania should defend and (or) render military assistance to other NATO allies in case of a military conflict. That supports the principle of the Lithuanian defence policy according to which our country has to be prepared for joint actions with NATO allies in the defence of any ally, Lithuania or another.

Lithuanian residents agree that Lithuania should contribute to the efforts of the international community by deploying forces to international operations if other allies request to. The percentage of respondents upholding this position has increased from 68 percent to 76 percent since 2019.

60 percent of the respondents say they supports Lithuania’s military assistance to Ukraine and 69 percent agree with the idea that Lithuania should contribute more to the fight against international terrorism.

The United States is seen as the central strategic partner in defence

The majority of respondents asked to name three countries that were Lithuania’s strategic partners in defence area pointed out the United States of America, Poland came second, and Germany – third. A significant increase since 2019 in the opinion that Poland is Lithuania’s strategic partner in defence, rising from 38 percent to 60 percent, is seen. Bilateral and multilateral military cooperation with the U.S., Germany, Poland, Baltic and Nordic countries and other allies is critical for Lithuania’s defensive capabilities, ability to act together in cooperation, and for strengthening regional and international security as well.

The respondents chose Latvia, Poland, Estonia and Germany in the first positions when asked to name the closets friends of Lithuania among European countries.

Lithuanian population shows more support to increased defence budget

According to the poll, 66 percent of Lithuanian residents agree to the 2 percent of GDP to be allotted for national defence, 37 percent of respondents are inclined to agree that the National Defence Budget should reach 2.5 percent of GDP by 2030, like it is laid out in an agreement of the parliamentary parties of the Republic of Lithuania signed in autumn 2018.

The public opinion poll was carried out by request of the Ministry of National Defence on 15-30 December 2020 by Spinter Research. It included 1008 respondents of age 18 to 75. The poll took place in the time of lockdown by combined means, 50 percent of respondents took part via telephone and the other 50 percent – via the Internet. Insignificant discrepancies may be seen in comparison to the year before when polling was also done in person.

 Photo credit: Ieva Budzeikaitė/Lithuanian Armed Forces

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