It’s 1978 and American analysts are scanning reconnaissance images of territory in the north of the Soviet-controlled Republic of Lithuania. Suddenly something out of the ordinary is spotted in a woodland clearing. It doesn’t take long to figure out that what’s been uncovered is nothing less than a top-secret nuclear missile base.
As we’ve said, the base was in the Republic of Lithuania, an independent country today that most certainly does not harbor nuclear weapons. So why was there a Russian missile base on Lithuanian soil back in 1978? The answer to that lies in the history of Lithuania and its relationship with the U.S.S.R. during the 20th century.
The Republic of Lithuania gained its independence in 1918, having previously been under the control of imperial Russia. But in 1939, an expansionist Hitler had cast his beady eye on the nation. The Nazis annexed some Lithuanian territory in March of that year. Lithuania now found itself sandwiched between two hostile powers, with the Soviets to the east and the Nazis to the west.