Turining empathy into actions
We understand that empathy is nothing without action. That is why Lithuanians have been galvanised since the earliest days of the invasion to offer support where it is needed most – for Ukraine’s fighters and civilians. Lithuania’s civil society, businesses, and government have been united in these efforts, which have resulted in a significant number of projects, donations and initiatives. The first government infrastructure project — the mobile residential settlement in the Kyiv region — has already been completed in April 2023. Recovery projects in the energy and education sectors are currently underway.
Major government and business support
The 1st largest contributor worldwide in terms of the percentage of its GDP (Ukraine Support Tracker | Kiel Institute (ifw-kiel.de), Lithuania has pledged over 465 million EUR to military support. Days before the full-scale Russian invasion in 2022, Lithuania’s government delivered practical assistance to Ukraine’s military, including armoured vests and a Stinger anti-aircraft system with 24 missiles. Lithuania was the first country that provided Ukraine with defence equipment of this calibre.
As the energy sector is one of the cornerstones of Ukraine’s survival and perseverance, it should come as no surprise that Lithuania views it as a priority. To this end, we have already provided over 11 million EUR in support, with 3 million EUR more on the way. Lithuania’s first energy sector recovery project is dedicated to the modernization of the electricity distribution network in Mykolayiv.
Lithuanian businesses, meanwhile, are also highly active. One of the private energy holding companies has allocated 12 million EUR for the recovery of Ukrainian energy infrastructure. The private sector is actively cooperating with state institutions, looking for the most effective ways to unlock the potential of private capital and foreign direct investment flows into Ukraine.
The Lithuanian Government is currently undertaking two reconstruction projects for educational institutions: the kindergarten in Irpin and the school in Borodyanka. BT Invest, a Lithuanian investment company operating in Ukraine, and BaltCap infrastructure fund have initiated a pilot project to restore schools in Ukraine. The project aims to create a replicable reconstruction model for sustainable schools to be used across Ukraine.
In the wake of the Russian invasion, two voluntary Lithuanian medical missions were dispatched to the Kyiv region in April 2022. We have been hosting Ukrainian soldiers for rehabilitation in Lithuania since 2014. In coordination with the EU and NATO, our current commitment is to receive up to 400 individuals for medical treatment and 1,200 individuals for rehabilitation.
Key grassroots military support
Lithuanians have been staunch supporters of the Ukrainian people since the Maidan protests of 2013. After the illegal annexation of Crimea and the war in the Donbass region, ordinary Lithuanians volunteered their time and resources to help Ukrainian families that lost their homes and Ukrainian soldiers injured on the battlefield.
In the face of Russian aggression in Ukraine, Lithuania’s civil society was quick to unite to offer substantial aid. The input of non-governmental support initiatives keeps growing and has already reached 60 million EUR of aid in 2023. And this is just the part that has been officially tracked.
Lithuanians have proven that when the entire nation – from first-graders to retirees – is doing their part, the results are astonishing.
Raising 5 million EUR to buy a Bayraktar drone in just over three days is just one example. Over less than a month, another national crowdfunding campaign, Let’s Radar!, brought in 14 million EUR to buy 16 air defence radars for Ukraine. The campaign used many channels, including a one-hour-long donation drive, which raised 1 million EUR, an amount that was matched by Tesonet, a major Lithuanian startup accelerator. After the campaign concluded, another Lithuanian high-tech company, Teltonika, donated an additional 1.45 million EUR, amounting to 10% of the full sum crowdfunded. The first of the purchased multifunctional radars have already been handed over to Ukrainians and will watch over the airspace of strategic objects and protect civilians from missile strikes.
Donations to NGOs
Non-governmental fundations have also been successfully raising funds for military aid. Since March 2022, Lithuanians have donated over 44 million EUR to the Blue/Yellow fund for purchasing and delivering support to the Ukrainian army. The fund has been supporting Ukraine’s armed resistance since 2014, providing soldiers and volunteers with non-lethal supplies. Another 3.7 million EUR was crowdfunded for the 1K fund to purchase material support for the Ukrainian army.
Leading grassroots civilian support
Despite ranking 4th among OECD countries for the number of refugees per capita, Lithuania has managed to avoid establishing camps and mass accommodation centres for Ukrainians. In just three days, an NGO, Stiprus Kartu, in collaboration with governmental structures, created a web platform to connect people in need with private homes willing to host them. Over 35,000 Ukrainian refugees were sheltered in the private homes of Lithuanians.
As almost 86% of Ukrainians who fled to Lithuania were women and children, so civil society support also focused on the well-being of the most vulnerable refugees. For instance, a grassroots initiative Ukrainian Kids in Lithuania organised weekend day camps for Ukrainian children. Over 25 weekends, 4,000 children participated weekly in some of the largest events organised in Europe for Ukrainian refugees.