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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, June 7, 2022

Jun 08 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Tuesday, June 7, 2022
  2. German chancellor visiting Lithuania
  3. Vilnius expects good news on security from German chancellor – Lithuanian president's aide
  4. Lithuania reports no attempted illegal border crossings from Belarus
  5. Lithuania reports 215 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death
  6. IMF praises Lithuanian govt for choosing right measures to address economic challenges
  7. IMF praises Lithuanian govt for choosing right measures to address economic challenges (expands)
  8. Lithuanian president calls to increase assistance to Ukraine amid Russian aggression
  9. Three MPs call on Lithuanian Seimas to condemn repressions in Hong Kong
  10. Lithuanian president calls to increase assistance to Ukraine amid Russian aggression (expands)
  11. Lithuanian, German leaders speak of agreement on increasing troop count in Baltics
  12. German chancellor rejects criticism over delay in sending heavy weapons to Ukraine
  13. Russia will have to withdraw its army from Ukraine – Scholz in Vilnius
  14. Scholz against lifting Minsk sanctions in exchange for Ukrainian grain transit
  15. Germany pledges to beef up NATO battalion in Lithuania to brigade-level (updates)
  16. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Upcoming events in Lithuania for Tuesday, June 7, 2022

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Tuesday, June 7, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to meet with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz at 10.50 a.m.; to host a meeting between the German chancellor and prime ministers of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia at 11.30 a.m.; to hold a joint press conference with the German chancellor and prime ministers of Latvia and Estonia at 12.45 p.m.; to visit the General Silvestras Zukauskas Training Area in Pabrade with the German chancellor at 2.10 p.m.

THE SEIMAS to host a press conference on serious violations of human rights and international law by China in Hong Kong at 9.30 a.m.

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to meet with representatives of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) mission in Lithuania at 8.30 a.m.; to hold a meeting with Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas at 10 a.m.; to take part in a working lunch with German Chancellor Scholz at 11.40 a.m.; to hold a meeting with Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins at 1.50 p.m.

FOREIGN MINISTER Gabrielius Landsbergis to continue his working visit to Japan.

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German chancellor visiting Lithuania

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz is coming on a visit to Vilnius on Tuesday as Lithuania and other Baltic countries call for turning the existing multinational allied battalions in the Baltic States into brigade-sized units.

The meeting, which will be held at the initiative of Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, will mostly focus on regional security and the strengthening of NATO’s capabilities.

Vilnius expects the leaders of NATO countries to decide in Madrid in late June that the multinational allied battalions stationed in the Baltic countries and Poland should be converted into brigades. The NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group in Lithuania is currently led by German troops.

“I think we will find formulations that will allow us to work with countries that have a special commitment to Lithuania,” Nauseda said last week.

According to the Lithuanian president, while NATO member countries differ in their positions toward converting the battalions into brigades, there is "a common understanding that the threat exists and that we have to prepare".

However, a specific agreement on this issue has yet to be reached.

Lithuania’s State Defense Council last week described the objective to have a brigade-sized unit deployed in the country as one of Lithuania’s key priorities at the forthcoming NATO summit in Madrid.

“We have all arguments why it is inevitable and necessary for us. It is not a whim, it is an absolute foundation,” presidential adviser Kestutis Budrys told reporters after the council’s meeting.

Latvian and Estonia Prime Ministers, Krisjanis Karins and Kaja Kallas, will also come on a visit to Lithuania on Tuesday and will take part in a four-party meeting with Nauseda and Scholz.

This will be the first visit to Lithuania for Scholz who took office last December.

By Augustas Stankevičius

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Vilnius expects good news on security from German chancellor – Lithuanian president's aide

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Vilnius expects positive news about the strengthening of the region’s security from Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz, Asta Skaisgiryte, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda's chief advisor, said on Tuesday.    

“I think, if the chancellor is eventually coming to Vilnius, he is coming with some news, he would not be coming for nothing,” she told the public broadcaster LRT. 

“We are also expecting some messages from the chancellor and I hope that those messages will be very positive for Lithuania,” she added.

Vilnius expects the leaders of NATO countries to decide in Madrid in late June that the multinational allied battalions stationed in the Baltic countries and Poland should be converted into brigades.

The 15min.lt news website reported on Tuesday citing its sources that NATO’s Military Committee had approved this initiative and would submit its recommendation to policymakers.

The NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group in Lithuania is currently led by German troops.

According to Skaisgiryte, a visit by German chancellor in the run-up to the NATO summit is a “special signal” showing concern about the security of the Baltic countries.

“It is very important to bolster physical presence of ground forces, very important to strengthen air and sea defense, very important to ensure very rapid response in case of a conflict,” she said.

The advisor stressed that the measures beefing up the security of the Baltic countries implied the strengthening of the entire Alliance thanks to enhanced protection of its external borders.

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Lithuania reports no attempted illegal border crossings from Belarus

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours recorded no attempted illegal border crossings from Belarus, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Tuesday morning.

Lithuanian border guards have reported attempts to cross illegally from Belarus over just two days in the past week.

Latvia has registered no illegal crossing attempts in the past 24 hours either. Polish border guards turned away 20 irregular migrants.

A total of 1,871 people have been prevented from crossing from Belarus into Lithuania at non-designated places so far this year. Some 2,633 such attempts have been reported by Latvia and 5,237 by Poland.   

Lithuanian border guards sent 8,106 people back to Belarus between last August, when they were given the right to deny entry to irregular migrants, and December.

By Austėja Masiokaitė-Liubinienė

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Lithuania reports 215 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 215 new coronavirus infections and one death from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Tuesday morning. 

Some 191 of the new cases were primary and 24 were secondary. 

The number of COVID-19 patients in hospitals currently stands at 85, including ten ICU cases.

The 14-day primary infection rate has edged down to 53.5 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests at 11.9 percent.

The daily count of new infections had been rising at a rapid pace since late 2021, but took a downward turn in early February after hitting a new high of over 14,000 cases

More than 1 million people in Lithuania have tested positive with COVID-19 at least once. 

Some 69.8 percent of the Lithuanian population have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab so far.

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IMF praises Lithuanian govt for choosing right measures to address economic challenges

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Lithuania is well prepared to meet economic challenges brought by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine as the country’s government has chosen the right measures to address those difficulties, the head of the International Monetary Fund's mission to Lithuania has said adding that inflation should shift to a downward path in the second half of the year.

“Lithuania had a very good response to the situation triggered by the pandemic whereas the inflation driven by the war in Ukraine is likely to stabilize and begin to moderate in the second half of the year,” Borja Gracia said during a news conference at the government on Tuesday as the Fund’s team concluded its two-week mission in Lithuania.

“In the IMF’s opinion, the measures chosen by the government to address these challenges have been right,” he added.

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IMF praises Lithuanian govt for choosing right measures to address economic challenges (expands)

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Lithuania is well prepared to meet economic challenges brought by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine as the country’s government has chosen the right measures to address those difficulties, the head of the International Monetary Fund's mission to Lithuania has said adding that inflation should shift to a downward path in the second half of the year.

“Lithuania had a very good response to the situation triggered by the pandemic whereas the inflation driven by the war in Ukraine is likely to stabilize and begin to moderate in the second half of the year,” Borja Gracia said during a news conference at the government on Tuesday as the Fund’s team concluded its two-week mission in Lithuania.

“In the IMF’s opinion, the measures chosen by the government to address these challenges have been right,” he added.

According to Gracia, both private and public sectors in Lithuania are ready to meet inflation challenges.

Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste said that the government was currently not considering extra measures to tame inflation but could bring them forward in fall, if necessary.

“According to current assumptions, inflation will stabilize and begin to moderate in fall. If we see a different situation, some additional measures could be brought forward in fall. However, it is now a bit too early to tell what the economy will look like then,” she added.

The Fund’s mission started work in  Lithuania on May 26 and its experts were due to analyze the general macroeconomic situation in Lithuania, labor market trends, the situation in the financial sector, fiscal policy, the situation in the energy sector and climate change policy.

By Remigijus Bielinskas

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Lithuanian president calls to increase assistance to Ukraine amid Russian aggression

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Europe has done a lot to help Ukraine but it nonetheless has to increase its assistance, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has said after a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Vilnius on Tuesday.

“We talked about Russia’s war in Ukraine and Europe’s response. Europe has done a lot to help Ukraine but that is not enough. The war has not yet been won. We must stay on this path and in no way reduce the speed. On the contrary, the speed should only be increased,” Nauseda said in a Facebook post after the meeting.

“We must fully support Ukraine, step up pressure on Russia, tighten sanctions, reduce energy dependence on the aggressor. We must do everything to defend our values and peace. We are and want to remain on the right side of history,” the Lithuanian leader stressed.

Nauseda also said that he had thanked Scholz for Germany’s readiness to contribute more to the security of Lithuania and the Baltic countries’ region.

“The presence of German troops, currently leading the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group in Lithuania, is a truly important sign of solidarity and unity of the allies. We are ready to host more German troops and provide all required infrastructure,” he stated.

Vilnius expects the leaders of NATO countries to decide in Madrid in late June that the multinational allied battalions stationed in the Baltic countries and Poland should be converted into brigades.

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Three MPs call on Lithuanian Seimas to condemn repressions in Hong Kong

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Three MPs have called on the Seimas of Lithuania to condemn Beijing’s repressions in Hong Kong and not to recognize that the appointment of Hong Kong leader in May was democratic.

The MPs held a press conference to present a draft parliamentary resolution urging the Chinese government to release all political prisoners in Hong Kong, including those sentenced for participation in banned Tiananmen crackdown commemorations.

The draft resolution calls to recognize that the Seimas “regrets the anti-democratic electoral reforms that facilitated the appointment of former security chief John Lee as Hong Kong next leader in May and refuses to recognize his election as part of the legitimate democratic process”.

The resolution was drafted by Marius Matijosaitis of the Freedom Party, who chairs the Parliamentary Group for Relations with Hong Kong, as well as Dovile Sakaliene of the Social Democrats and Zygimantas Pavilionis of the conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, who both are members of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China.

The MPs also called on the European Union to implement a sanction mechanism against China’s and Hong Kong’s government officials responsible for human rights' and international law violations in the city. They also urged the European Commission to restrict exports of dual-use goods to Hong Kong.

The parliamentarians called on Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and the government “to work out a mechanism facilitating access to political asylum for Hong Kong’s dissidents”.

Sakaliene stated at the press conference that the resolution had been drafted in view of the fact that China had breached the treaty signed with the United Kingdom over Hong Kong, which provided for the principle of “one country, two systems”, by banning commemorations of the Tiananmen Square crackdown not just in China but also in Hong Kong.

“We have stated very clearly our stance that the Chinese Communist Party must be held accountable for international law violations in Hong Kong... We have also stressed that those abusing human rights, being international criminals, cannot hoard up wealth freely and enjoy the privileges provided by our democracies,” she said.

Ray Wong, a Hong Kong activist and an advisor at Hong Kong Watch, a UK-based NGO established to monitor the conditions of human rights, freedoms and the rule of law in Hong Kong, stated at the press conference that the human rights situation in Hong Kong had been deteriorating in recent years.

Commemorations of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, which had been taking place annually since 1990, had been banned this year and deemed “posing a threat to security”, he said adding that participants of those commemorations were being arrested since 2019.

China continued to demonstrate its force both to the neighboring countries and the whole world, the activist, who is currently residing in Germany, stressed adding that he hoped that “China’s authoritarian regime will collapse”.

Meanwhile, Pavilionis pointed to China’s role in Russia’s war against Ukraine. The MP stated that “the autocracies” retreating from democracy “are starting to play together on the same side and support each other’s aggression”.

“Basically, China currently supports Russia’s aggression in Ukraine economically. Therefore, I am surprised by the statements made by some of our colleagues from other parties when they, on the one hand, support Ukraine very actively and, on the other hand, criticize us, those who have joined forces to stand against Communist China, for deeper ties with Taiwan…,” he said.

Sakaliene said that she expected the draft resolution to be approved by the parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs on Wednesday and to be discussed by the Plenary as early as next week.

After seven months of pro-democratic protests that rocked Hong Kong in 2019, Beijing imposed a law on the semi-autonomous city effectively criminalizing dissent.

In May, a number of countries, including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States, joined the European Union (EU) in its concerns voiced about how Hong Kong’s new leader was chosen.

Beijing, in its turn, praised the election process as the “real demonstration of democratic spirit” and claimed that this was the climax of the strategy aimed at having the “patriots only” in charge of the city.

By Ignas Jačauskas

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Lithuanian president calls to increase assistance to Ukraine amid Russian aggression (expands)

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – Europe has done a lot to help Ukraine but it nonetheless has to increase its assistance, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has said after a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Vilnius on Tuesday.

“We talked about Russia’s war in Ukraine and Europe’s response. Europe has done a lot to help Ukraine but that is not enough. The war has not yet been won. We must stay on this path and in no way reduce the speed. On the contrary, the speed should only be increased,” Nauseda said in a Facebook post after the meeting.

“We must fully support Ukraine, step up pressure on Russia, tighten sanctions, reduce energy dependence on the aggressor. We must do everything to defend our values and peace. We are and want to remain on the right side of history,” the Lithuanian leader stressed.

Nauseda also emphasized the particular importance of political support to Ukraine, in addition to military assistance and economic aid, and stated it was necessary to grant the EU candidate status to Ukraine.

“It is time to state clearly that Ukraine belongs with the European Union. We have no moral right to lose this moment,” a press release from the presidential office quoted him as saying.

Nauseda also said that he had thanked Scholz for Germany’s readiness to contribute more to the security of Lithuania and the Baltic countries’ region.

“The presence of German troops, currently leading the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group in Lithuania, is a truly important sign of solidarity and unity of the allies. We are ready to host more German troops and provide all required infrastructure,” he stated.

Vilnius expects the leaders of NATO countries to decide in Madrid in late June that the multinational allied battalions stationed in the Baltic countries and Poland should be converted into brigades.

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Lithuanian, German leaders speak of agreement on increasing troop count in Baltics

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – With Russia pressing on with its military aggression in Ukraine, it is necessary to beef up defense capabilities by increasing the number of troops deployed in the Baltic countries, the Lithuanian president and the German chancellor stated after a meeting in Vilnius on Tuesday.

“Maximum readiness and beefed up forces in our region are the security guarantee of the whole Alliance. We have agreed that it is necessary to enhance defense capabilities in the Baltic countries by increasing the number of troops deployed and by strengthening air and sea defense,” Gitanas Nauseda said during a joint press conference.

Chancellor of Germany Olaf Scholz confirmed that members of the Alliance were committed to defend and protect every single centimeter.

“We have envisaged that we will scale up our contribution to the strengthening of NATO’s eastern flank, we will create a strong brigade, have discussed that with each other and will have to work on this,” Scholz said.

Vilnius expects the leaders of NATO countries to decide in Madrid in late June that the multinational allied battalions stationed in the Baltic countries and Poland should be converted into brigades.

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German chancellor rejects criticism over delay in sending heavy weapons to Ukraine

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS - German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, currently in Lithuania, has rejected criticism over the delay in sending heavy weapons to Ukraine.

"Germany is one of the key military supporters of Ukraine, with probably only the United States providing more support, but Germany is certainly providing a lot of assistance to Ukraine as we are providing large quantities of ammunition, armored systems, and the most sophisticated howitzers are set to be delivered to Ukraine", the German chancellor told a press conference in Vilnius, adding that Ukrainian troops are currently being trained in Germany on how to use these weapons.

"We often see reports that are completely untrue, stating that the Ukrainians do not want some weapons (...). In fact, we are supporting Ukraine very actively, and we have the so-called arms exchanges that have been agreed with, for example, the Czech Republic, Greece, other countries, and the Ukrainians will certainly be able to use these weapons," Scholz assured.

"My decision for Germany to supply arms during the conflict, it's a decision that we are implementing on a large scale", he added.

Having long delayed sending arms to Ukraine, Germany is now facing pressure to provide heavy weapons to Kyiv. So far, Berlin has not been sending them directly but has been asking other countries to do so, pledging to compensate their losses.

Last week, Scholz said he had agreed with Greece that Athens would send Soviet-era military equipment to Ukraine in exchange for more modern weapons from Berlin. Germany has already signed a similar agreement with the Czech Republic.

Berlin has also promised second-hand self-propelled howitzers and self-propelled anti-aircraft systems Gepard, and they are due to arrive in Ukraine in July. However, Kyiv expects more from Germany and wants it to directly send Leopard tanks and Marder IFVs.

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Russia will have to withdraw its army from Ukraine – Scholz in Vilnius

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS - The West will not accept peace terms dictated by Russia and it will have to withdraw its army from Ukraine, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Vilnius on Tuesday.

"We will definitely not accept a peace dictated by Russia, we will not accept such a peace. It is, therefore, very important and clear to us that the result of this military situation will be that Russia will have to withdraw its troops and that Ukraine will defend its independence," he told a press conference in Vilnius.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's military aggression has only achieved the goal of further uniting Western allies, the German chancellor pointed out.

"What Putin has achieved is that NATO has become even more united, that NATO is further strengthening its capabilities, and we are strengthening NATO's eastern flank near the Baltic Sea, and that Sweden and Finland have decided to become NATO members. So this is what Putin's military aggression has achieved: we are becoming even stronger", the German chancellor said.

Since Putin has not succeeded in seizing the whole of Ukraine, he is continuing his brutal war and trying to achieve something, Scholz said, adding that the sanctions imposed on Russia would also have an effect as they would set the country's economy back decades.

Also attending the press conference, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins said Putin would start talking about peace only after realizing that he's losing.

Meanwhile, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says the West's effort to "save Russia's face" is hard to understand because "then we are acting inconsistently towards ourselves".

"When we say there must be a decisive and united response to Russian aggression, we ourselves are trying to get to Putin through the back door, to talk to him, to persuade him, to plead with him, and so we are legitimizing him in a way", he said during the press conference, asked about the attempts by some Western leaders to talk to the Russian president.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas insisted it was important to talk to and help Ukraine, not Russia.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who is in telephone contact with Putin, has urged European leaders to avoid humiliating Russia. Meanwhile, ex-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and some Western politicians have said Ukraine should cede part of its territory to Russia to end Moscow's invasion.

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Scholz against lifting Minsk sanctions in exchange for Ukrainian grain transit

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS - German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, currently in Vilnius, has ruled out lifting the existing sanctions for Minsk in exchange for Ukrainian grain transit through Belarus, adding that Western countries are looking for ways to get grain safely out of the war-torn country to avoid a global food shortage.

"By no means, it does not mean we should lift the sanctions we have adopted for (Alexander) Lukashenko," the German chancellor told reporters in Vilnius on Tuesday after holding a joint press conference with Lithuanian President Gitans Nauseda and Latvian and Estonian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins and Kaja Kallas.

Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also ruled out such a possibility.

Ukraine, one of the world's biggest grain exporters, is unable to use its Black Sea ports as they are being blocked by the Russian navy. The West is considering shipping Ukrainian grain by rail via other European countries, but this is difficult to do due to large grain volumes.

Lithuania has proposed building a coalition of countries to unblock the port of Odessa. In other words, Western warships would escort Ukrainian cargo ships to prevent them from being attacked by Kremlin forces.

"Russia is responsible for the fact that grain cannot be taken out of Ukraine. (...) We will try to find a solution, and the United Nations is also trying to find a solution," Scholz said in Vilnius.

If a decision to unblock the port of Odessa is taken, it should also be ensured that "Russia does not abuse such decisions", the German chancellor said.

Turkey has not allowed military ships to pass through the Bosphorus since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as this is the only waterway to the Black Sea.

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Germany pledges to beef up NATO battalion in Lithuania to brigade-level (updates)

(Updated version: updates throughout)

VILNIUS, Jun 07, BNS – In response to Russia's military aggression in Ukraine, Germany has pledged to bolster the existing international NATO battalion stationed in Lithuania to a brigade-size unit, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in Vilnius on Tuesday, stressing that allies are committed to defending the Alliance's every centimeter.

"We envisaged that we will scale up our contribution to the strengthening of NATO’s eastern flank, we will create a strong brigade, have discussed that with each other and will have to work on this,” Scholz told reporters at the Presidential Palace.

And Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda confirmed it during his visit to Pabrade.

"Germany is going to take the lead and (...) bolster its military presence here. They intend to beef it up it to the brigade level. This is one of the goals, one of the dreams that we are thinking about as we look forward to the NATO summit. In practice, it is becoming a reality today", the Lithuanian president said, adding that Berlin and Vilnius will take these steps gradually.

"As a host country, we will take care of all the necessary infrastructure. In particular, I pointed out to the chancellor that it would make sense for us to have an additional battalion here for permanent exercises, for permanent training," Nauseda said, refraining to say exactly when the brigade will be in Lithuania.

He stressed, however, that it would "not take years", adding that the military unit would include not only German troops, as it does now.

"Over the next year or 18 months, we can expect to have the necessary combat unit here. We have to do some work, first of all, on the construction of barracks, on deployment sites, on infrastructure. I think this is a realistic timeframe", the president said.

Focus on the Baltic region

Earlier in the day, Nauseda met with the German chancellor and the Latvian and Estonian prime ministers at the Presidential Palace, and the Lithuanian president stressed the need to strengthen defense capabilities by increasing the number of troops in all three Baltic states.

"Maximum readiness and beefed up forces in our region are the security guarantee of the whole Alliance. We agreed that it is necessary to enhance defense capabilities in the Baltic countries by increasing the number of troops deployed and by strengthening air and sea defense," Nauseda told a joint press conference after the meeting.

He also pointed out that the new strategic reality, Russia's attack on Ukraine, was pushing NATO to increase its military presence in the region.

"We need to realize that Russia's military threat is not going anywhere and it will remain a long-term threat to the entire Euro-Atlantic area. (...) Looking into the Russian threat, we must shape a strong response and strengthen our defense," the Lithuanian president said, adding that Lithuania is ready to host allied troops.

"Joint allied action, unity and solidarity are vital and indispensable in the current security environment," Nauseda stressed.

Official decisions expected in Madrid

Scholz welcomed Germany's decision to up defense funding and hoped it would be maintained in the future.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas also said Baltic defense should be upgraded.

"Allied presence must be increased in the air, on land and at sea, and decisions have to be taken in Madrid," she said. "We need to make it clear to the aggressor that NATO has the will and the clear ability to defend every centimeter of its territory."

Both the Estonian prime minister and her Latvian counterpart Krisjanis Karins believe the German leadership will help to take make determined decisions at the NATO Madrid summit, needed to ensure the Alliance is ready for future challenges.

"We welcome Germany's decision to boost its presence in Lithuania as it's a very welcome and right decision. It will strengthen Lithuania, it will strengthen Latvia and it will strengthen Estonia", the Latvian prime minister said.

Vilnius expects the leaders of NATO countries to decide in Madrid in late June that the multinational allied battalions stationed in the Baltic countries and Poland should be converted into brigades. The aim is also to strengthen air defense.

Germany is now leading the forward presence battalion in Lithuania, and the other two in Latvia and Estonia are being led by Canada and the UK respectively.

The battalions are expected to be expanded to brigades on the basis of the armies of these countries.

A battalion consists of about 1,000 soldiers, and a brigade has about 5,000 troops.

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Wednesday, June 8, 2022

VILNIUS, Jun 08, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Wednesday, June 8, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to meet with visiting Greece President Katerina Sakellaropoulou at 1 p.m., followed by a joint press conference at 2.30 p.m.

SPEAKER THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen  to attend gala dinner in honor of visiting Greece President Katerina Sakellaropoulou at 7.30 p.m.

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to chair the Cabinet's regular meeting at 1 p.m.

NATIONAL DEFENSE MINISTER Arvydas Anusauskas to meet with Marius Vescega, head of the European Commission Representation in Lithuania, at 9 a.m.

The 10th anniversary of the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence to be marked at 11 a.m.

CULTURE MINISTER Simonas Kairus to meet a delegation of Saltsburg's Landtag at 10 a.m.

JUSTICE MINISTER Ewelina Dobrowolska to attend a meeting on the Norwegian project at 3.30 p.m.

INTERIOR MINISTER Agne Bilotaite to welcome Greece President Katerina Sakellaropoulou at Vilnius Airport at noon; to visit Antakalnis Cemetary with Greece President Katerina Sakellaropoulou to attend a ceremony for laying wreaths at the memorial for those killed for Lithuana's independence at 3 p.m.

OTHER EVENTS

A picket to be held outside the Belarusian Embassy at noon to express solidarity with Belarusian democratic (independent) trade unions amid continuous persecution of these activists.

 

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