Lithuania (Lithuanian: Lietuvos Respublika), officially the Republic of Lithuania, is a country in Northern Europe. One of the three Baltic states, it is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, to the east of Sweden and Denmark. It is bordered by Latvia to the north, Belarus to the east and south, Poland to the south, and Kaliningrad Oblast (a Russian exclave) to the southwest. Lithuania has an estimated population of 2.9 million people as of 2015, and its capital and largest city is Vilnius.
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- Anyone who would choose Lithuania as an enemy has also made an enemy of the United States of America.
- For as politics opened up while prosperity lagged behind, it became hard to see what benefits a state like Lithuania got from being part of the Soviet Union. The Lithuanians resented how that had come about—Hitler and Stalin had arranged their annexation in the 1939 Nazi- Soviet Pact. They followed closely what was happening now in Germany and Eastern Europe. Whatever lingering doubts there were disappeared in January, 1991, when Soviet troops in Vilnius fired on a crowd of demonstrators, and on February 19th, the Lithuanians decisively voted for independence. Much the same sequence of events occurred in Latvia and Estonia. Gorbachev, still hoping for love, was not inclined to resist. But if the Baltics seceded, why could the Transcaucasian republics not do the same? Or the Moldavians? Or even the Ukrainians? These were the questions confronting Gorbachev in the spring of 1991, and he had no answer for them. "[AJlthough we were slaying the totalitarian monster," Chernyaev recalled, "no consensus emerged on what would replace it; and so, as perestroika was losing its orientation, the forces it had unleashed were slipping out of control.
- John Lewis Gaddis, The Cold War: A New History (2005), p. 254
- If Lithuania needs to defend itself again, we will not be alone as we were in some fatal historical moments.
- Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said in a televised address, quoted on Radio Free Europe Radio Liberty (February 16, 2016), "Lithuania Celebrates Restoration Of Independence"
- Please accept the best wishes of the American people as you celebrate the 98th anniversary of Lithuania's declaration of independence. Lithuania continues to serve as a model to others, by advancing democracy and security on a global scale. Your dedication to helping other counties complete their own democratic transformation has been made clear through your work in the EU Eastern Partnership. In addition, you have continued to show leadership beyond your borders by standing with Ukraine and by maintaining your consistent support of Afghanistan.
- Barack Obama wrote in a congratulator letter to his Lithuanian counterpart, Dalia Grybauskaite, quoted on Baltic Times (February 15, 2016), "President Obama hails Lithuania as "model for strengthening democracy""
- In the Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—the return of the Red Army also provoked lasting resistance. Having become independent from Russia in 1918, the three countries were occupied by the Soviets in 1940, after Stalin’s pact with Hitler. The occupation was vicious, and the German invasion in 1941 had been greeted with relief by many Balts, who now turned their wrath on Russians and other local minorities, including Jews. The German defeat meant the return of the Red Army and the start of another round of bloodletting. In all three Baltic countries resistance coalesced around former officers, most of whom had collaborated with the Nazis; they were known collectively as the “Forest Brothers.” The fighting lasted for almost a decade and cost up to fifty thousand lives, mostly in Lithuania. Around 10 percent of the entire adult population of Balts was deported or sent to Soviet labor camps between 1940 and 1953.
- Odd Arne Westad, The Cold War: A World History (2017)