Analysing international policy processes and Lithuania’s role in them
Research Jan 26, 2024

Index of Russia’s Influence on Lithuania 2022–2023


The Index of Russia’s Influence on Lithuania is the first of its kind to comprehensively assess Russia’s influence on Lithuania and to identify areas where Russia’s influence may still pose a risk and threat. A periodic fact-check would allow monitoring of the evolving factual situation and help to highlight the most sensitive areas.

• Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022, Lithuania has taken active steps to reduce its dependence on Russia. The biggest changes have taken place in the economic, energy and infor mation domains, where the links with Russia or the potential influence of Russian entities on Lithuania have been minimised. However, the obvious reduction in Russia’s possible influence on Lithuania does not mean that Russia has completely disappeared from our security, economic, energy, political, or information environment.

• The Index of Russia’s Influence on Lithuania, which has been conducted for the first time, is based on a survey methodology published in 2022. The study covers seven domains involved in the state’s functioning – military, economic, energy, cyber, information, political and societal security – where the factual connections and, consequently, the spread of Russia’s potential influence on Lithuania through these linkages were assessed. In total, the index used 27 categories of criteria.

• The value of Russia’s potential influence on Lithuania in 2022-2023 measured 3.13 on a 10 point index scale (where 1 means no tangible influence and 10 means the maximum possible influence).

• According to expert surveys, Russia’s greatest potential influence is in the cyber domain, with an average score of 5.5. This level of influence is mainly due to Russia’s ability to exploit various software and hardware security vulnerabilities in Lithuania and the potential to carry out targeted cyber-attacks and other malicious activities against Lithuania’s critical IT and communications infrastructure. The experts also pointed out that, on average, more than half of all cyber incidents targeting Lithuania could be attributed to Russian entities.

• The domains of societal security (3.6 out of 10 possible points) and politics (3.4 points) scored slightly higher marks than the final average value of the index. In the domain of societal security, Russia has the potential to substantially impact Lithuania due to the relatively passive political-social nature of Lithuanian society. On the other hand, Lithuanians reject the typical Russian propaganda narratives and demonstrate a strong understanding of and support for the principles necessary for democracy.

• In the political domain, the main negative impact is due to the high distrust of key governmental institutions among the Lithuanian society. The low trust in political institutions is perhaps the most vulnerable point in terms of political security: people’s lack of trust in the authorities undermines the strength of the society’s connection to the state. On the other hand, the position of the Lithuanian parliamentary parties is completely against Russian political interests, and the popularity of radical parties in the national political system is minimal. However, this trend may change – the 2024 elections in Lithuania should reveal whether public support for radical views has increased.

• The military (2.4), economic (2.2) and information (2.2) domains scored lower than the overall index average. The results indicate that these domains are more immune to Russia’s influence, which is mainly due to the restrictions or policy decisions introduced after February 2022, ranging from the almost complete refusal to import Russian energy sources to the sharp drop in the turnover of goods and services with Russia, to legal decisions banning the availability of Russian information sources in Lithuania.

• The study is based on aggregated statistical data for 2022-2023 and surveys conducted with experts in their fields. There was no clear quantitative data in some assessment categories or such data gathering would be highly inefficient, so subjective expert judgements were used. It is worth noting that despite the subjectivity of the expert assessment, it often reflects the assessments of independent experts or researchers and the generalised assessments of institutions (e.g., the Ministry of National Defence, the State Security Department and the National Cyber Security Centre).

Tomas Janeliūnas has been a professor at the Vilnius Institute of International Relations and Political Science (TSPMI) since 2015. He defended his doctorate in the social sciences at Vilnius University in 2006.

Between 2013 and 2018, he led the TSPMI International Relations Cathedral. Between 2009 and 2020, he was the Editor in Chief for the magazine Politologija. Between 2007 and 2017, he edited the releases of the Lithuanian Foreign Policy Review. Between 2010 and 2019, he was the politics editor and analyst for the magazine IQ.

T. Janeliūnas is an expert for the National Security and Defence Committee (drafting the Lithuanian National Security Strategy review), in 2016 and 2020, he was an expert for the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), in drafting positions for the Review of the European Neighbourhood Policy (REX/458-EESC-2016) and Towards a New European Neighbourhood Policy (REX/447-EESC-2015).