Lithuania supports Ukraine: from massive protests in the streets to buying Bayraktar
Last updated on Wednesday, 22/02/2023
Lithuania is a small country of 2.8 million citizens in eastern Europe. In the past, it was occupied by the Russian army for 50 years. These days, when the Russian army is trying to occupy Ukraine, Lithuania understands that it can be the next. That’s why the country is putting a lot of effort into helping Ukraine.
A lot of people of Lithuania are involved in giving support to Ukraine. From the smallest kids drawing paintings about Ukraine to the old grandmothers knitting warm socks for people fleeing the conflict.
When the Russian invasion of Ukraine started on 24 February, many Lithuanians in big and small cities participated in the event „Laisvė šviečia” („Freedom shines“). They went to the streets to show that Ukraine is not alone! It was just the beginning of protests against the war and in support of Ukraine.
Famous Lithuanian women also organised a protest near the Russian embassy in the capital Vilnius. They wanted to show support to Ukrainian women and say out loud: Ukrainian sisters, moms, grandmothers, you are not alone, we are sending brightness and care to stay with you. I believe that at that time when Ukrainian women needed to let their sons, husbands, and dads to the war or were suffering from Russian army violence, they weren’t carrying about support protests happening in Lithuania, but I think that it was one step further to spread our good wishes and strength to them through our minds.
Also near the Russian embassy in Vilnius, in March there were 4 days of protests, full of Ukrainian symbols, flags, and music. Lithuania also changed the name of the street where the Russian embassy is located in Vilnius into „Ukrainian Heroes’ Street“. I think this decision is a huge sign of understanding and support from Lithuania.
On the occasion of the celebration of Lithuanian independence (11 March) Lithuanians not only celebrated their independence but also made a huge display of unity and solidarity hosting a Ukrainian concert.
An initiative spread across the whole country to protest near restaurants and stop buying "Vičiūnai group”* products, which belong to the Mayor of Kaunas, V. Matijošaitis. The reason for that is because he didn‘t withdraw these products from the Russian market and continued to sell them to Russia, which is seen as favorable to the Russian economy by paying taxes to that country.
In April, a pond near the Russian embassy in Vilnius was colored in red. The red color symbolized the thousands of innocent Ukrainian men's and women's blood. In that water, some people made a performance called „Swimming Through“.
These are just the most remarkable protests which took place in Lithuania but there were many more. I am sure that every human, every poster, and every word in those protests had an impact. Maybe we can not see that impact immediately, but I believe that a call to take an active part in protecting the lives, the freedom, and the democracy of Ukrainian people who are being tortured, raped, and killed by Russia spread not only around Lithuania but also around Europe and maybe the whole world.
Protests meant a lot, especially by showing our support, but Lithuania did so much more than just that.
During the first week of the war, grocery stores in Lithuania decided to ban and stop selling products made in Russia and Belarus. Till these days, you cannot find almost any Russian or Belarussian product in stores. Also, Lithuania was the first country in Europe who decided to stop using Russian gas to avoid paying huge amounts of money to Russia. I hope that these bans will be used until Russia does not stop its attacks on Ukraine so that we won’t be helping Russia by paying taxes to her.
At the moment, Lithuania hosts more than 50,000 refugees from Ukraine. Students now can study in Lithuanian schools and a lot of Ukrainian refugee adults are working in Lithuania.
On February 26th, the Lithuanian Red Cross organization was collecting donations for Ukraine, for example, warm clothes, sleeping bags, and mats. As impressive as it sounds, Lithuanians donated 50 trucks full of needed materials just in one day.
© Artūras Kokorevas / Pexels
Your donation is your weapon in Ukraine
These words were visible when you visited the Blue/yellow organization website. It has supported Ukraine since 2014 and now, according to Forbes.ua information, they are one of the biggest non-governmental organizations in the world which supports Ukraine. They have sent 32.938.037 EUR to Ukraine gathered by Lithuanians. And we do not stop here. Oleg Šuravej – a famous Lithuanian comedian created a 1k support fund. Now they have collected more than 1.7 million euros. Through smaller funds for Ukraine, Lithuanians also supported Ukraine financially with an unbelievable amount of money.
Lithuania made impossible things - possible.
At first, this journey started with a fundraising appeal by the famous Lithuanian journalist Andrius Tapinas with the saying „Lithuanians do you join Orc hunting?". 16 hours later, Lithuanian citizens donated 377,422 euros and bought 2 drones EOS C VTOL. They named it Magyla1 and Magyla2 the name of the goddess of death.
It seemed impossible but after a couple of weeks, the idea of buying Bayraktar (it is a Tactical Unmanned Aerial Vehicle capable of conducting Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and armed attack missions) has come to light. The same journalist Andrius Tapinas with „Laisvės TV“ said that we are not going to stand by and watch how old Europe is unwilling to help Ukraine. Lithuanians will buy Bayraktar for Ukraine.
With donations from one to 30,000EUR coming from kids to seniors, after 3 and a half days, Lithuania did it! The final amount of crowdfunding for Bayraktar was 5,915,207EUR. Turkey and Baykar, which is building Bayraktar, were amazed by the Lithuanian's power so they decided to donate this „Bayraktar TB2“ to Lithuania. Bayraktar was named Vanagas („hawk“).
Lithuanian’s hawk are now in Ukraine and will be trying to catch a lot of Russian army members. All money collected by the Turkish request was allocated to humanitarian, defensive, logistical, and restorative help to Ukraine. So on this day, from the Bayraktar money, there are 4 more drones EOS C VTOL named "Magyla", one hundred ten M4S SkyWipers - anti-drone cannons and the Bayraktar are armed with rockets!
Though Lithuania is a small country, it has a huge impact on helping Ukraine. Lithuania is putting small steps to create huge support and spread waves of help to Ukraine every day until the war will end!
* Vičiūnai group - it is a manufacturer of crab sticks and other surimi and fish products.
Meet the author Austėja Dumčiūtė (Member of the pool of European young journalists – Edition 2022)
"I am Austėja Dumčiūtė from Klaipėda, Lithuania. Probably the best definition of me would be that I don't know how to say NO. And that is why I am trying to climb out of my comfort zone in every step I can. I love to talk, I enjoy being in the center of attention, and the Lithuanian saying “Don't give to eat, give to talk” also fits me very well. I live near the Baltic sea and I love the sea, I love the sun and probably because of that I am full of positive thinking and passion.
I know that every human has a dual personality. But sometimes I think that I have way too many different personalities. On the one hand, I play with the traditional Lithuanian instrument called kanklės and on the other hand, I am flying through the park at high speed with my rollerblades. It looks like completely different activities, but this gives some spice to my personality and probably it makes me more interesting as a person. To sum up, I am trying to live my best life and I truly believe that in the future I will make something great, something unexpected!"
This article reflects the views of the author only. The European Commission cannot be held responsible for it.