Klaipeda, Lithuania


Photographer: Mattia Vacca

Year of Submission: 2016 (Educators Edition) 

In the gym of a military base in Klaipėda, a city on Lithuania’s Baltic coast, cadets in their first week of training are shown a video of fighting between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian soldiers in south-east Ukraine’s Donbass region. In Lithuania and the two other Baltic states, Latvia and Estonia – all former states of the Soviet Union that are now members of Nato and the EU – many people fear possible Russian aggression. An increase in military activity in Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on Lithuania’s western border, prompted the government in Vilnius to resume military conscription. In September 2015, the Lithuanian army started training 3,000 recruits as part of a programme to expand its self-defence forces.