Waiting for Invasion – Watch our latest feature documentary on Al Jazeera HD at 8pm on 15th February 2017
“This film is a timely reminder of just how much is at stake in Eastern Europe as tensions rise between Russia and the West. This is a story of innocence lost for a generation of young Europeans.”
- James Rogan, executive producer
Produced and directed by Neringa Medutyte, Waiting for Invasion is Rogan Productions’ latest feature documentary and will be broadcast on Al Jazeera English on 15th February. In this documentary, we follow two conscripts, Aironas Babkauskas and Stasys Vasiliauskas, who join the army after Lithuania’s President recently reintroduced conscription. A powerful account of the rising tensions in Eastern Europe, this is a story of a young nation readying itself to defend its independence against the possibility of Russian aggression.
Lithuania under threat
After only 27 years of independence, Lithuania fears Russian occupation once again. In January 2015 Lithuania became the nineteenth member state of the Eurozone. Two months later, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė announced that the country was under Russian attack. Following the Russian annexation of Crimea (Ukraine), Lithuania considers itself to be the next target. The country has been subject to multiple cyber-attacks, intimidation by Russian bombers and unidentified planes, diplomatic battles and threats. The airspace above the Baltic States is now one of the most dangerous in the world. Europe's leaders have agreed that further defence is necessary and subsequently NATO is setting up a command post with a rapid reaction force in Lithuania, where British and American soldiers will provide support to defend the border of NATO States.
The film’s director, Neringa Medutyte, explains:
“Lithuania has become a target of constant Russian provocation. It seemed that just overnight peaceful relations had radically turned into an uncertain future. I now live in London and noticed that the changing geopolitical situation in Lithuania and the Baltic countries wasn't getting enough media coverage. I knew that I had to tell the story of my country to as many people as I could”.
A nation determined to avoid history repeating itself
All of the first year’s conscripts turned out to be volunteers. Aironas Babkauskas and Stasys Vasiliauskas, the film’s main protagonists, were amongst the first to join. Despite having very different personalities and backgrounds, Neringa was struck by their motivation and determination to serve their country: “We got to know their families and most importantly their mothers, who still remember the days when Lithuania was occupied by Soviet Russia. Hearing the mothers explain and justify why they thought their sons had to join the army, was deeply touching. The memory of Soviet occupation is still very much alive, their crimes have not been forgotten and this young Lithuanian generation is determined to help avoid history repeating itself.”
Throughout the documentary different angles are explored and coexist. Through filming with the soldiers but also with NATO forces and President Grybauskaite, this film navigates between the intimate lives of the Lithuanian people and the intensifying geopolitical situation, showing the full impact that a political decision can have on an individual.
On 7th February, Rogan Productions held a preview screening of Waiting for Invasion at the prestigious Frontline Club, London. The audience reactions ranged from Lithuanian’s audience members gratefulness that someone was finally telling their story to shock at the discovery of a subject they knew little about. The screening was followed by a Q&A session chaired by Roger Graef, during which Edward Lucas, journalist at the Economist, James Rogan and Neringa Medutyte debated about the future of Lithuania and Europe.
Waiting for Invasion will be broadcast on Al Jazeera English at 8pm GMT on 15th February.