German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius arrived in NATO partner Lithuania on Monday. After his arrival, he met with Bundeswehr soldiers from the German deployment contingent of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) battle group.
“We stand firmly by the side of our partners and friends,” Pistorius said meeting the German soldiers in Rukla. “The security of Lithuania is also our security, and that is why this commitment is so important.”
During his two-day visit, the German minister will hold talks with Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte and Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas.
Those talks are scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in Vilnius.
On Tuesday, Pistorius will also observe exercises at the Pabrade military training area, known as Griffin Lightning, during which around 600 Bundeswehr soldiers and Lithuanian soldiers will practice defending Lithuania against a potential aggressor.
NATO battlegroup in Lithuania
During the 2016 NATO summit in Warsaw, NATO allies decided to strengthen their presence in the eastern part of the alliance with four battalions stationed in rotation in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
Germany is in charge of NATO’s Lithuania-based multinational enhanced forward presence battlegroup and also provides tanks, self-propelled howitzers and anti-aircraft systems. The battlegroup has between 1,500 and 1,700 soldiers, around 850 of whom are German.
After the Russian invasion of Ukraine a year ago, additional combat units were set up for the defense of Lithuania under the term Enhanced Vigilance Activities (EVA).
At the Munich Security Conference in February, Pistorius called for a further increase in the international military presence in Eastern Europe.
dh/ar (AFP, dpa)