Published at POLITICO Europe
Words by Jonathan Brown
The Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union, a paramilitary organisation made up of civilian volunteers, comprises almost 10,000 members and is growing. It has seen a spike in membership since the conflict in Ukraine began. In light of uncertain United States commitment to NATO - following the election of Trump - and deteriorating security situation in the region, the Baltic paramilitaries may once play a key part in defending the countries against a potential Russian foe.
Founded in 1919, the Riflemen’s Union was resisted both the Nazi and Soviet occupations of Lithuania.
In comparison to Lithuania’s 18,000 standing military force, the Riflemen’s Union have grown in strength and importance since the emergence of the perceived threat from Russia.