General Jonas Žemaitis Military Academy of Lithuania

Background 2024

Baltic Military Conference 2019

‘Learning to Defend: Adapting Western Experiences in the Baltics’

The inaugural Baltic Military Conference, held on behalf of the Chief of Defence of the Republic of Lithuania, took place in Vilnius in 2019. From the outset, the organisers sought to establish a high-level forum, which would discuss topical issues of security and defence, emphasizing the regional dimension. 2019 The conference was dedicated to Western military experience in the Baltic region.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, event in 2020 has been cancelled.

Baltic Military Conference 2021

‘The West in a New Era of Great Power Rivalry’

In 2021, the flagship Lithuanian security and defence event focused on the West in a new era of great power rivalry, featuring four panels and three high-level keynote speeches. Former US National Security Advisor Lt Gen (ret) McMaster kicked off the BMC by emphasizing that the West needed to regain its strategic competence in the wake of re-emerging great power competition. The second day began with a keynote opening delivered by the President of the Republic of Lithuania, H. E. Gitanas Nausėda. The President made it clear that the West should increase its efforts in deterring principal adversaries with military means. The Baltic Military Conference ended with the keynote address by the US Under Secretary of Defence for Policy, Department of Defence, Dr Colin H. Kahl. He stressed that the answer to strategic competition is allies and partners working together. Strategic competition is exacerbated by threats that know no borders. These include COVID-19, climate change, cyber threats, violent extremism and more. The ‘Night Owl’ session reflected on the large-scale strategic military exercise, ZAPAD-2021 (West-2021), held by Russia and Belarus.

‘China and Russia: traditional and emerging security challenges’ panel discussed that combining traditional and hybrid tools, Russia continues to threaten the West. Its aggressive military posture poses a challenge for Europe’s security. China’s military assertiveness in the South China Sea and its ambition to expand its global influence by gaining access to strategic economic sectors and Western technologies make the global security environment even more complex.

‘NATO’s deterrence and defence posture: the way ahead’ panel deliberated Russia continuing to destabilise the situation in and around Ukraine. Despite the ongoing pandemic, it retains an aggressive posture and antagonistic rhetoric with regards to the West. Russia undermines the rules-based international order by violating international treaties such as INF, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Open Skies Treaty. It has developed an aggressive military posture, practising it during strategic level exercises based upon aggressive scenarios directed against NATO.

Panel ‘Preparing for the future: the race for technological superiority’ discussed the future security of the Euro-Atlantic area depending heavily upon the success of Western democracies in the race for technological superiority. Emerging new technologies such as autonomous weapon systems, artificial intelligence, cyber, quantum computing, 5G networks or hypersonic weapons systems are considerably changing the strategic security and defence calculations while also posing challenges and providing opportunities at the same time.

Baltic Military Conference 2023

‘Reinforcing NATO’s Deterrence and Defence Posture: Military-Strategic Perspective’

The Baltic Military Conference 2023 was dedicated to the NATO Summit to be held in Vilnius in 2023 and brought together senior policymakers, military officers, and defence experts to discuss the military strategic developments within the Alliance, implementation of the decisions on the Alliance’s deterrence and defence posture taken during the NATO Summit in Madrid and further steps needed to increase the readiness of its force posture in order to address the threats and challenges in a changed security environment. The Baltic Military Conference provided unique platform for debate with leading experts on military strategic issues, and eminent speakers, such as Dr Mark T. Esper, Former Secretary of Defense, U.S., Prime Minister of Lithuania Ingrida Šimonytė and Admiral Rob Bauer, Chair of the Military Committee of NATO made their remarks. Night Owl session ‘Lessons Learnt from Russia’s War in Ukraine’ focused on the military lessons learnt from Russia’s war in Ukraine: the use of modern weapon systems and technology, resilience and resistance, digital leadership during a modern warfare, military assistance to Ukraine.

Session 1 ‘Implementation of NATO’s defence and deterrence policy: NATO’s military presence in the Baltic Sea region’ discussed NATO’s adaptation towards a forward defence posture: where NATO stands with the implementation of forward defence, what is needed to facilitate readiness and rapid deployment of forces, how NATO should further strengthen its posture in land, at sea and in the air domain to deny its territory to any aggression.

Atlantic Council session ‘After One Year: Views from Washington on support for Ukraine and US Force Posture in Europe’ highlighted pledge by US President Joe Biden in a dramatic visit to Kyiv that the United States will stand with Ukraine “for as long as it takes” and continual reaffirmation to “defend every single inch of NATO territory” against Russia. However, as rising inflation, other economic disruptions, war fatigue, domestic populism, and competing global threats manifest, there are concerns about the durability of the US commitment to Ukraine and Europe. Any shift in Washington’s thinking could have significant repercussions for US force posture in Europe, recently reinforced, and European deterrence more broadly.

Session 3 ‘NATO’s adaptation to the changing character of war: the multi-domain challenge for the military component’ discussed the challenges that the changing character of war poses to NATO’s military-strategic thinking and planning: how the use and organisation of Allied forces and capabilities in all operational domains should be improved, how NATO should enhance the collective readiness, responsiveness, deployability and interoperability of Allied forces and capabilities to ensure credible deterrence and defence.

Baltic Military Conference 2024

‘From Vilnius to Washington, D.C.: Shaping NATO’s Future in a New Era of Collective Defence’

The Baltic Military Conference 2024 focused on NATO’s future in the context of the evolving security architecture, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the development of the NATO’s military capabilities and emerging challenges. The Baltic Military Conference provided unique platform for debate with leading experts on military strategic issues, and eminent speakers, such as Gitanas Nausėda, President of the Republic of Lithuania, Prime Minister of Lithuania Ingrida Šimonytė, Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen, Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania, Arvydas Anušauskas, Minister of National Defence of the Republic of Lithuania, Siemtje MöllerParliamentary State Secretary to the Minister of Defence, Federal Ministry of Defence of Germany, Admiral Sir Keith E. Blount, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR), NATO, General Chris Badia, Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (DSACT), NATO, Ryan D. McCarthy, Former Secretary of the United States Army, Oleksii Reznikov, Former Minister of Defence of Ukraine made their remarks. 

Baltic Military Conference 2024 was the most important event of the year in the field of security and deterrence held in Lithuania. The Conference sent a clear message, covering several aspects: 1) Europe needs to be strengthened (by investing in defence capabilities, strengthening the defence industry, and adhering to agreed decisions on defence and deterrence); 2) the US needs to be retained in Europe (not only by securing the support of the American political leaders, but also of the American people); 3) Russia needs to be contained (both by enabling the victory in Ukraine, and by limiting Russia’s military strength). For the Alliance as a whole, it is important not only to ensure the development of military capabilities, but also to ensure strong political will and a clear message that NATO’s future is being shaped now, on the basis of a collective responsibility and a winning mindset.