Tuesday, 27 August 2013 21:24

Soviet troops withdrawal from Lithuania 20 years ago

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Soviet troops start withdrawing from the military base in Vilnius, 1992 Soviet troops start withdrawing from the military base in Vilnius, 1992

Twenty years ago on August 30th, Russia withdrew its last soldier from Lithuania, which became the first Baltic nation to eject all former Soviet troops. In fact, Soviet troops left Lithuania one year earlier than they left Germany. 

In 1990, Soviet Army had in Lithuania about 35,000 troops,1000 tanks,180 aircrafts and 1901 armed personnel carriers.

The pull in Lithuania started on March 3, 1992. The 446 anti-aircraft missile squad, armed with S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems was the first army unit to leave. The last to cross the state border were about 2,400 paratroopers.

See historical footages of the start of the pullout in this video:

“This day was awaited and dreamed about by more than one Lithuanian generation since 1940”, said then President Algirdas Brazauskas of Lithuania in his statement.

The withdrawal of Soviet troops was demanded by an overwhelming majority of population. In a nationwide referendum that took place in June of 1992, 1,744,135 people, or 91%, voted in favor, while only 140,051, or 7%, voted against.

Soviet army occupied Lithuania as well as Latvia and Estonia less than a year after Ribbentrop-Molotov pact was signed between Soviet Union and Nazi Germany on August 23, 1939.

It withdrew shortly in 1941 after the German army invaded the Soviet Union, but returned back into Lithuania in the summer of 1944.

Soviet troops were considered in Lithuania by the public as an occupying force.

Some of these troops, such as units from the 107th Motor-Rifle Division, took part in attack on the television tower in Vilnius in January 1991 in which 14 people were killed and hundreds were injured.

See January 13 Soviet troop assault in this video:

(Footage from documentary "Krustcels". Director: Juris Podnieks, Latvia.)

Russia gradually agreed to the withdrawal after the Soviet Union seized to exists, but sopped the pullout after Lithuania began to demand a compensation for damages caused by the Soviet occupation.

Russia agreed to resume the pullout after agreeing with Lithuania to separate negotiations on compensation.

The issue of compensation has not been resolved to this date, however.

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