March-May 1936: The Baltic in Fire
The month following the recovery of Wilno and Grodno was spent upgrading the obselete arsenal of the Army to the best possible models. The first unit to seee upgrade was the artillery attachment of the II Division, whose early century guns were replaced with late Great War models. Further upgrade would need further research which was uncomplete for now.
The country's industrial capacity was too small to attempt anything bigger than upgrading. The whole country together could not afford to equip and train and entirely new infantry division. There was only one way to solve this: Conquest- Lithuania turned to it's neighboors looking for the weakest one.
Poland and Germany are out of the question.
So is the U.S.S.R, for now.
Finland's military is a little bit too big.
Sweden is too big for the three Lithuanian divisions.
Latvia and Estonia, however, have small and outdated armies- they will fall first.
On march 28th, Lithuanian troops started to move across the border between the two countries. A declaration of war was issued some minutes later. It didn't take long for Estonia to declare war back on Lithuania to protect it's neighboor.
The Lithuanian Army, led by Lt. Gen Rastikis, occupied Jelgava in a matter of days and by April 3 he could see the Latvian capital, Riga, with his own eyes.
He decided to assault the city that same day, before more Latvian troops could arrive to defend it.
The defense of the capital was in the hands of a lone infantry division, that fought fiercely during an entire day to hold the river. The Lithuanians suffered many casualities crossing it, but still overwhelmed the defenders and effectively took the capital the morning of the 6th before it could be reinforced, and held it against a counter-attack.
With the capital in enemy hands the Latvian goverment tried to end the conflict with diplomacy. The Lithuanian garrison in Riga threatened to burn down the whole city unless the goverment accepted the Lithuanian demands of full annexation, thing that accepted quickly. Every Latvian soldier marched towards the nearest Lithuanian counterpart and surrendered his weapons during the following days. Only the Estonians kept fighting, severly slowling down the Lithuanian advance.
The Germans, that to that point had stayed neutral, decided to intervene in favor of Lithuania, entering formally a military alliance with her. Altough it was already too late to worry about the actual fighting, the Germans sent a fast cavalry unit from Eastern Prussia, that working closely with the Lithuanian troops, achieved a breaktrough in less than an hour and took the capital on the 13th. The same diplomatic actions were taken and Estonia was forced to become part of the Greater Lithuania that same day.
This attracted nothing more than formal complaints from countries like England and France, but the Soviet Union took a step further and canceled the non-agression pact with Lithuania. Stalin was furious as the Baltic was supposed to be inside it's sphere of influence but did not dare to do anything else, mostly because of Germany's alliance with the Baltic Superpower.
This alliance brought much good- The Lithuanians soon recieved many blueprints, and favorable trade agreements. The modernization of the Army was much easier and more invasions could take place ahead of schedule.