In recent years, Lithuania’s changing geopolitical environment because of the military conflict between Russia and Ukraine has increased the potential military threat that inevitably affects the subjective perception of security of the population. Based on the data from representative surveys and interviews conducted in 2014 and 2016, the article examines Lithuanians’ subjective perception of external military threats in the new geopolitical context, the impact of this perception on their coping strategies and the factors that have an impact on the selection of these strategies. The article is based on Buzan’s (1983, 1991, 2007) theoretical insights into subjective security and the sociological subjective security analysis approach of Inglehart and Norris (2012), applying it to the practically unexplored subjective response (strategies chosen by individuals) to the research into the field of military threat field. These two theoretical approaches allow the analysis of how a country’s population comprehends threats to its security amid a changing geopolitical context and the examination of the impact of different groups and approaches in society when selecting coping strategies. The article argues that the perception of security changes over time, as following the events that created the feeling of insecurity in the first place, the feeling of security again starts to rise gradually. In addition, knowledge of not only the current geopolitical context but also the historical experience is important, as in societies that have undergone radical political transformations, attitudes towards the existing democratic and former Soviet regimes play a rather major part in determining subjective security. The subjective security of different social groups and their selected coping strategies
also differ, as it is the most vulnerable social groups that feel least safe. The least vulnerable social groups are most inclined to defend their country, whereas more vulnerable groups choose to be passive or to look after themselves and their families first and foremost.
The article considers traditional and non-traditional security concerns faced by the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the face of China’s increasing presence. Consequently the article first considers the geo-economic challenges posed to these Baltic States through the China and Central and East Europe Countries (CCEEC) grouping, and China’s Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB) initiative. This economic leverage translates to political leverage able to be exerted on the Baltic states by China, with regard to human rights and the issue of the Dalai Lama. Moreover, such mechanisms and Chinese financing serves to politically divide the Baltic states, and also divides EU solidarity vis-à-vis China. Finally there are the conventional security issues posed to the Baltic states in the Russia-China naval exercises carried out in Baltic waters in 2017; with China’s role in effect providing implicit support and legitimisation of explicit Russian threats in the Baltic. It concludes by suggesting alternative infrastructure routings to at least reduce the threat of Russian interference.