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Future of Ukraine

Lithuania’s Support for Ukraine Remains Steadfast – Whatever Victory Takes

Lithuania’s Support for Ukraine Remains Steadfast – Whatever Victory Takes

On 24 February two years ago, Russia launched a brutal full-scale invasion of Ukraine – marking the bloodiest phase of Russia‘s war against Ukraine, which began ten years ago with Russia‘s illegal annexation of Crimea and invasion of Donbas.

Fearlessly fighting for their freedom, Ukrainians are also defending the peace and security of Europe. Moreover, Ukraine is on the front line in the defence of the rules-based world order and the principles upon which European societies are founded; namely, liberty, democracy, and freedom of thought and speech.

Lithuania continues to provide Ukraine with military, economic, humanitarian, and political assistance. Lithuania has also initiated several reconstruction projects because the rebuilding of Ukraine cannot wait until victory – it began immediately after Ukraine reclaimed the first inches of its territory, and the democratic world must contribute to this effort. As a nation that has suffered from Russian aggression in the past, we understand well the importance of helping Ukraine, with all means we have, to win this war and achieve a just and lasting peace. A public opinion poll conducted in December on behalf of the Ministry of National Defence showed that 76% of the population of our country supports Lithuania’s military assistance to Ukraine.

Currently, Lithuania is among the top supporters of Ukraine globally in terms of the share of GDP, with bilateral aid to Ukraine equalling  1.5% of GDP. Additionally, Lithuania’s share in EU support to Ukraine amounts to another 0.5 % country‘s GDP.

In total, Lithuania’s government has already delivered assistance surpassing 1 billion EUR. On top of that, municipal, business, and especially grassroots support initiatives raise tens of millions of euros, with which Lithuanian people delivered a Bayraktar for Ukraine, military drones, anti-drone systems and radars, generators, and other humanitarian aid and military equipment for the Ukrainian army and civilians.

Rebuilding of Ukraine has already started

Russia has not only taken thousands of lives but also caused unprecedented material damage in Ukraine. But even under attack, the country is rebuilding. Together with partners, Lithuania has been supporting reconstruction projects across Ukraine since 2022, delivering substantive recovery and improving the living conditions for its embattled people.

With over 150,000 residential buildings destroyed or damaged by Russia‘s shelling, providing shelter to Ukrainians who had lost their homes was among the highest priorities when it came to recovery. Lithuania launched one of its first reconstruction projects – a mobile settlement in the town of Borodyanka (Kyiv region), which had welcomed the first inhabitants in April 2023.

Russia’s targeted attacks on Ukraine’s education infrastructure have damaged or destroyed one in seven schools in the country, along with many kindergartens. To give Ukrainian children access to education again, Lithuania has commenced several school and kindergarten reconstruction projects. In Borodyanka, Lithuania rebuilt one of the town’s three schools. Completely levelled at the start of the full-scale invasion, it will soon open its doors again, welcoming 700 pupils back to the classroom. In the city of Irpin, a kindergarten, 75% destroyed during the invasion, was rebuilt in just 8 months to open in August 2023. Taiwan has also contributed to these and other reconstruction projects initiated by Lithuania.

Lithuania is also heading a European Union project to build new school shelters in Ukraine. The full-scale invasion has forced 1.6 million Ukrainian school children out of education, while some 900,000 study remotely as only schools equipped with bomb shelters are allowed to operate offline. The project will see anti-radiation shelters installed at schools, accommodating around 1,000 people each and suitable not only for protection but for learning and extracurriculars. The EU will allocate 15 million EUR to the initiative, while Lithuania is contributing an additional 0.5 million EUR and taking responsibility for project implementation.

Focus on building back better

Lithuania is also implementing projects aimed at Ukraine’s long-term recovery and transformation. One of them is a joint Lithuanian-Ukrainian initiative to define the architectural design of future schools in Ukraine. The project aims to bring architects from across Europe, Ukraine, and around the world for an international competition to select and develop the adaptive technical design for an innovative future school. 

“The whole procedure is designed to encourage interdisciplinary collaboration among international and Ukrainian educational visionaries, architects, and other creative minds. It will not only save resources but also give opportunity to replace destroyed schools with even better ones, putting the famous motto ‘build back better’ into practice,” says Artūras Žarnovskis, the Manager of the Co-Create Future of Ukraine Programme at the Central Project Management Agency (CPVA), responsible for the project.

The CPVA is also playing an important role in another project focused on long-term impact, this time targeted at strengthening Ukraine’s institutional competencies. During the project, the CPVA will share experience with the Ukrainian State Agency for Restoration, enhancing the administrative capacity of Ukrainian partners. Expert support in public procurement and other relevant areas will be provided in line with the European Commission’s Pillar assessment methodology, which ensures compliance with the Commission’s requirements for EU fund management.

Another initiative by Lithuania’s Construction Sector Development Agency is creating a 3D digital urban planning tool to help rebuild Ukraine’s destroyed cities and providing training to empower local governments to build better and more sustainably.

Steady state and grassroots support for Ukrainian fighters

For the past two years, Lithuanians have been galvanised to support Ukraine through various initiatives. In February 2023, the “Radarom!” campaign raised 14 million EUR, which was used to buy 16 radars to protect Ukraine‘s skies. In 2024, Lithuania united for a new campaign aimed at protecting Ukrainian soldiers. The kits that the new campaign aims to prepare consist of a night vision monocular, a laser sight, and individual anti-drone devices, all made in Lithuania and designed to help Ukrainian soldiers stay better protected.

Non-governmental foundations have also been successfully raising funds for military aid. For instance, as of the end of 2023, Lithuanians have donated over 51M EUR to the Blue/Yellow Fund for the purchasing and delivery of support to the Ukrainian army. The fund has been supporting Ukraine’s defenders since 2014, providing soldiers and volunteers with non-lethal supplies.

When it comes to state level military aid, Lithuania has already established a long-term support plan. Lithuania’s commitment for 2024-2026 foresees at least 200 million EUR worth of military assistance to Ukraine. In addition to regularly transferring military hardware and equipment, Lithuania also actively trains Ukrainian soldiers, takes in injured service members for medical care, arranges expert consultations, and contributes financially to international funds supporting Ukraine. In total, military aid accounts for half of the 1 billion EUR assistance Lithuania has provided to Ukraine so far.  

Welcoming Ukrainians fleeing the war

Over the past two years, over 84,000 Ukrainians have arrived in Lithuania. In terms of Ukrainian refugees per capita, Lithuania ranks fourth among European countries. Although the migration rate has dropped significantly since March 2023, Ukrainians now represent the biggest community of foreign citizens living in the country.

A recent survey shows that Lithuania’s support for Ukraine since 2014 has played a significant role in the country’s popularity among Ukrainians fleeing the war. Over 62% of survey respondents claim they chose Lithuania as their temporary home because of the active support of the Lithuanian people and government.

Before the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the government, together with NGOs, preplanned the necessary preparation to house Ukrainians. An NGO called Stiprūs Kartu, in collaboration with governmental organisations, created a web platform to connect people in need with individuals willing to host them. When the influx of Ukrainian refugees started, ordinary Lithuanians were ready to support them. As the first Ukrainians seeking safety crossed Lithuanian borders, through this initiative, over 35,000 Ukrainian refugees found accommodation in the private homes of Lithuanians.

Supporting Ukraine is more critical than ever

As we stand at the two-year mark of the Russia‘s brutal full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Ukraine continues to demonstrate commitment and bravery in its fight for the country’s sovereignty and freedom. International support remains crucial for achieving Ukraine ‘s victory in Russia‘s unprovoked and unjustified war, stopping Russia‘s aggression, and protecting rules-based world order as well as European values. Lithuania stands firm in its commitment to support Ukraine, whatever victory takes.