Lithuanian government proposes withdrawal from cluster munitions convention

By Defence Industry Europe

The Lithuanian government has approved a draft resolution proposing that the parliament denounce the Convention on Cluster Munitions, a treaty that bans the use, production, and acquisition of these controversial weapons. The Defence Ministry, which drafted the resolution, argues that withdrawing from the convention would allow Lithuania to acquire, stockpile, and, if necessary, use cluster munitions for its defence.

 

The proposal to leave the convention was first considered last year when the United States began supplying cluster munitions to Ukraine in its defence against Russian aggression. Despite being banned in over 100 countries due to the excessive harm they cause to civilian populations, the Defence Ministry maintains that cluster munitions are a highly effective means of defence and that Lithuania should have the capability to use them.

For the draft resolution to take effect, it must be approved by the parliament and President Gitanas Nausėda. The ministry emphasizes that in the event of an armed conflict involving Lithuania, neighboring Russia and Belarus would likely use cluster munitions, potentially giving them a military advantage. Additionally, the ability to train troops to use cluster munitions, either alone or in conjunction with allies, is seen as a strategic necessity.

 

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The Defence Ministry also points out that several of Lithuania’s allies, including the US, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Poland, Romania, and Turkey, are not part of the treaty. In contrast, most European countries and NATO member Canada are signatories of the convention.

Defence Minister Laurynas Kasčiūnas addressed the cabinet, highlighting the strategic imbalance created by Lithuania’s current adherence to the convention. “Even if our allies wanted to use this tool on our territory, they would not be able to do so, not even to transport it through Lithuania,” Kasčiūnas stated. “This completely unbalances the entire Eastern flank and undoubtedly needs to be dealt with,” he added.

Lithuania joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions in 2011, which prohibits the use, production, and acquisition of cluster munitions and sets out specific obligations to address the humanitarian consequences of these weapons. The Convention was signed in Dublin in December 2008 and entered into force on August 1, 2010.

 

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The decision to withdraw reflects a broader debate on national defensc strategies and the balance between humanitarian obligations and military capabilities. The outcome will have significant implications for Lithuania’s defence policy and its alignment with international norms regarding the use of cluster munitions.

 

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