Russia’s Military Challenge to the Baltics, the US and NATO

On Friday, April 17, 2015, The Jamestown Foundation hosted Rasa Jukneviciene, the former Minister of Defense of the Republic of Lithuania, and Major General Jonas Kronkaitis, former Chief of Defense of Lithuania, in a discussion on Baltic security. Ms. Jukneviciene outlined Lithuanian defense objectives in light of Russian aggression and stressed the importance of aid to Ukraine in deterring Putin’s ambitions. She stressed that NATO must deter Russia and limit opportunities that Putin can exploit for his own gain. To maintain its defense, Lithuania should vow to increase its defense budget every year and increase military cooperation with other NATO members. Both Ms. Jukneviciene and Gen. Kronkaitis agreed that a temporary U.S. military unit in the country would be an important step, though ideally this post would become permanent in the future. Gen. Kronkaitis also emphasized that the current passivity of the West is dangerous, and that the EU and NATO must be stronger and more active in responding to Russia. Lithuania’s energy policy, Nordic-Baltic ties, and strategies against Russian hybrid warfare were also discussed.




Friday, April 17, 2015

3:30 P.M.–5:00 P.M.

The Jamestown Foundation

1111 Sixteenth Street

Seventh Floor Boardroom

Washington, D.C. 20036


3:30 P.M.

Glen E. Howard
President, The Jamestown Foundation

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“The Russian Threat to the Baltics”
Rasa Jukneviciene
Former Minister of Defense, Republic of Lithuania


Major General Jonas Kronkaitis (ret.)
Former Chief of Defense of Lithuania (July 1999 to June 2004)

Q & A

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5:00 P.M.


Rasa Jukneviciene

Rasa Jukneviciene is the former Minister of Defense of the Republic of Lithuania. She was born in Panevezys district, Lithuania, in 1958. She graduated from the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences in 1983 and worked as a pediatrician until 1990. During the first free elections, she was elected to Lithuania’s Supreme Council (Reconstituent Seimas) and was a signatory to the Act of Lithuanian Independence, signed on March 11, 1990. Ms. Jukneviciene was reelected to the Lithuanian Parliament in 1996, and has served in it ever since. From 1999 to 2000, she held the position of the Deputy Speaker of the Seimas. In 2008, she was elected as the Vice President of NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly. From 2008 to 2012, Rasa Jukneviciene served as Lithuania’s Minister of National Defense. Currently Rasa Jukneviciene is a member of the Lithuanian Parliament (Seimas), the Deputy Chair of the Seimas Delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, and a member of the CEPA Advisory Council. She belongs to the Committee of National Security and Defense and is a Vice President of the Homeland Union–Lithuanian Christian Democrats party.

Major General Jonas Kronkaitis (ret.)

John Kronkaitis served as Chief of Defense of Lithuania from July 1999 to June 2004. He was born in inter-war Lithuania, in 1935. In 1944, just before the Soviet reoccupation of Lithuania, he escaped to Germany with his parents, and in 1949, he immigrated to the United States. He graduated from the University of Connecticut with a Bachelor of Science degree and from Syracuse University with an MBA. He is also a graduate of the US Army War College. For 27 years, he served in the US armed forces in various positions, including two years in Vietnam, retiring in 1985 with the rank of Colonel. After retirement, for ten years he worked in the defense industry. In 1991, with his ethnic Latvian and Estonian colleagues, he founded The Baltic Institute to assist the newly independent Baltic countries in democratization efforts and their path to membership in the NATO alliance. With the permission of the US government, in 1997 he became a Vice Minister of Defense of Lithuania and, in 1999, again with the permission of the US government, he was designated by the Lithuanian parliament as the commander of the Lithuanian Armed Forces, with the objective of transforming the Armed Forces to NATO standards. He retired from that position in 2004. Thereafter, in 2009–2011 he advised the newly appointed Minister of Defense.