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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, October 14, 2022

Oct 17 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Friday, October 14, 2022
  2. US defense secretary to meet with Bucharest Nine defense ministers 
  3. Lithuanian president, NATO chief to discuss support to Ukraine, situation in region
  4. Lithuanian interior minister to discuss migration situation with EU counterparts
  5. Lithuanian border guards prevent 37 migrants from crossing in from Belarus
  6. Lithuania reports 607 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death
  7. US battalion to be deployed to Lithuania through 2025 – minister 
  8. US battalion to be deployed in Lithuania through 2025 – minister (expands)
  9. First German howitzers reach Ukraine after repairs in Lithuania – minister   
  10. Savchuk appointed CEO of Lithuania's Lifosa (corrects)
  11. Lithuanian schools can take in 26,000 more Ukrainian children – ministry
  12. Half of cars in Vilnius could be electric by 2030 – mayor
  13. Bronze Age settlement found underwater in Lithuania
  14. 13 more Lithuanians, relatives move to Lithuania from Venezuela
  15. Supplying Ukraine with air defense systems is key to victory – Lithuania's Nauseda
  16. Lithuania-Poland unity in face of war is strength for whole region – Nauseda   
  17. Metropolitan Innokenty to continue to lead Orthodox Church in Lithuania
  18. Lithuanian president, NATO secgen talk Ukraine support, regional security

Upcoming events in Lithuania for Friday, October 14, 2022

VILNIUS, Oct 14, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Friday, October 14, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to have a phone call with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at 3 p.m.

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to chair a meeting of the Board of the Seimas at 9 a.m.

NATIONAL DEFENSE MINISTER Arvydas Anusauskas to attend a meeting of Bucharest Nine defense ministers and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

INTERIOR MINISTER Agne Bilotaite to attend a meeting of EU home affairs ministers in Luxembourg at 9 a.m.

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US defense secretary to meet with Bucharest Nine defense ministers 

VILNIUS, Oct 14, BNS – US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin is to meet with the defense ministers of the Bucharest Nine countries in Brussels on Friday, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry has said.

The Bucharest Nine group is made up of nine NATO eastern flank nations: Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia.

Vilnius expects Austin to confirm the US commitment to an uninterrupted presence of American troops in Lithuania for the next few years.

"Throughout the year, we have been seeking a permanent and uninterrupted American presence in Lithuania, and we have been working hard on this in various formats," Laurynas Kasciunas, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense, told BNS on Thursday.

"I am very confident that this is the message that will reach us on Friday," the MP said.

"I believe that there will be an uninterrupted presence of the battalion on a rotational basis, together with a higher combat readiness with more combat power," he added.

According to Kasciunas, the rotation of the American battalion and the assignment of the German brigade to Lithuania are a key deterrent against enemies.

US battalions have been rotating in Lithuania since 2019. Rotational companies were deployed to the country between 2014 and 2017.

In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Americans reinforced their rotational battalions by sending in more troops and equipment.

In June, some 800 soldiers from the United States Army's 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment with combat equipment began their rotation of at least nine months in Lithuania.

 

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Lithuanian president, NATO chief to discuss support to Ukraine, situation in region

VILNIUS, Oct 14, BNS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda is to have a phone call with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday to discuss further assistance to Ukraine in its war against Russia, and the security situation. 

Ridas Jasiulionis, Nauseda's spokesman, has told BNS that the two officials will discuss "support for Ukraine and the security situation in the region".

Ukraine's supporters met in Brussels this week in the so-called Ramstein format.

Lithuania announced plans to send self-propelled mortars, armored vehicles and other equipment to Ukraine. 

The country's military assistance to Ukraine has so far included Stinger air defense systems, anti-tank weapons, armored vests and helmets, 120 mm mortars, small arms, ammunition, thermal imaging cameras, drones, anti-drones, surveillance radars, M113 armored personnel carriers, trucks, and all-terrain vehicles, according to the Defense Ministry.

Lithuania is also considering sending PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers and NASAMS air defense systems to Ukraine.

In response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, NATO has agreed to beef up its presence on its eastern flank and develop brigade-size units in these countries if needed.

Lithuania has agreed with Germany on the assignment of such a brigade, but is seeking a clear commitment from Berlin to permanently deploy this military unit in the country.

 

By Saulius Jakučionis

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Lithuanian interior minister to discuss migration situation with EU counterparts

VILNIUS, Oct 14, BNS – Lithuanian Interior Minister Agne Bilotaite is taking part in a meeting of the EU's Home Affairs Council in Luxembourg on Friday.

At the meeting, the European Commission will brief the ministers on the migration situation and the so-called Schengen barometer, and Frontex, the bloc's border agency, will present its strategic risk analysis for the next decade, the Lithuanian Interior Ministry has said.

The ministers will also seek consensus on EU migration policy issues, discuss more effective border management, member states' readiness to take in Ukrainian war refugees in winter conditions, and the impact of the war on the EU's internal security, according to the ministry.

„"Adapting the EU's legal framework to the new realities is a key priority for us. As the hybrid attack continues and is unlikely to end any time soon, we will reiterate the importance of establishing a clear legal framework for effective control of external borders and to prevent the abuse of the EU asylum system," Bilotaite said.

"It is also necessary to distinguish between natural and instrumentalized migration and to apply appropriate measures," she added. 

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally last year.

Lithuanian border guards have turned over 17,200 people back to Belarus since August 2021, when they were given the right to deny entry to irregular migrants. The number includes repeated attempts by the same people to cross the border.

Vilnius calls the influx of migrants from Belarus a "hybrid attack" by the Minsk regime. 

 

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Lithuanian border guards prevent 37 migrants from crossing in from Belarus

VILNIUS, Oct 14, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours turned away 37 migrants attempting to cross into the country from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Friday morning.

Latvia recorded no attempts to cross the border illegally on Thursday, and Polish border guards denied entry to 69 irregular migrants away on Wednesday, according to the latest available information.

The daily number of migrants refused entry to Lithuania reached this year's high of 135 on September 20, nine fewer than the highest ever number recorded on November 12, 2021.

A total of 9,216 irregular migrants have been stopped from entering Lithuania since January. 

Lithuanian border guards have sent over 17,300 people back to Belarus since August 3, 2021, when they were given the right to deny entry to irregular migrants. The number includes repeated attempts by the same people to cross the border.

The SBGS says that illegal migration to Lithuania and the EU is being facilitated by Belarusian officials. 

Almost 4,200 irregular migrants crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally last year.

Lithuania calls the unprecedented influx of migrants from Belarus, which began more than a year ago, a "hybrid attack" by the Minsk regime. 

 

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Lithuania reports 607 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death

VILNIUS, Oct 14, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 607 new coronavirus infections and one death from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Friday morning.

Of the new cases, 480 were primary, 119 were secondary and eight were tertiary.

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 now stands at 179, including 12 ICU cases.

The 14-day primary infection rate has edged down to 372.9 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests down to 30.5 percent.

The daily number of new coronavirus cases remains well below the peak of over 14,000 reached in early February.

More than 1.2 million people in Lithuania have tested positive with COVID-19 at least once.

Some 70 percent of the Lithuanian population have received at least one coronavirus vaccine jab so far.

 

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US battalion to be deployed to Lithuania through 2025 – minister 

VILNIUS, Oct 14, BNS – The United States' battalion will be deployed to Lithuania until the end of 2025 after Washington has approved a rotational force plan for the Baltic states, Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said on Friday. 

"The US is approving its rotational force plan for the Baltic countries and Lithuania, and the US battalion with reinforcements will be stationed in the country through 2025," he told BNS by phone from Brussels.  

Anusauskas was speaking after Friday's meeting between NATO's nine eastern flank nations and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. 

 

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US battalion to be deployed in Lithuania through 2025 – minister (expands)

VILNIUS, Oct 14, BNS – A US battalion will be deployed in Lithuania until the end of 2025 after Washington has approved a rotational force plan for the Baltic states, Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said on Friday. 

"The US is approving its rotational force plan for the Baltic countries and Lithuania, and the US battalion with reinforcements will be stationed in the country through 2025," he told BNS by phone from Brussels.  

Anusauskas was speaking after Friday's meeting between NATO's nine eastern flank nations and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. 

"Since the US is sending a full combat battalion and reinforcement units, the number may vary, but it is between 600 and 800 troops," the Lithuanian minister said.

US battalions have been rotating in Lithuania since 2019. American rotational companies were deployed to the country between 2014 and 2017.

In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the US reinforced its rotational battalions by sending in more troops and equipment.

In June, some 800 soldiers from the United States Army's 1st Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment with combat equipment began their rotation of at least nine months in Lithuania.

Also, a German-led 1,500-strong multinational battalion has been stationed in Lithuania since 2017.  

The forward command element of a German brigade assigned to Lithuania has been based in the Baltic country. Lithuanian officials expect the brigade, which consists of several thousand troops, to be permanently deployed in the country in the future.

 

 

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First German howitzers reach Ukraine after repairs in Lithuania – minister   

VILNIUS, Oct 14, BNS – The first German PzH 2000 howitzers repaired in Lithuania for Ukraine have arrived in the country that is fighting back against Russia's invasion, Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said on Friday.  

"I can only say that the first repaired howitzers have reached Ukraine and that we are going to continue this work," he told BNS.

The minister tweeted a picture of a military truck with a howitzer on its platform crossing the Lithuanian border with Poland.

"PzH2000 repaired in Lithuania are being returned to the battlefield in Ukraine. Good luck!" he wrote.   

Anusauskas said earlier that about one-third of the howitzers provided for Ukraine were being repaired in Lithuania.

The Lithuanian Armed Forces also have this type of artillery weapons.

 

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Savchuk appointed CEO of Lithuania's Lifosa (corrects)

(corrects Savchuk's name and position at EuroChem) 

VILNIUS, Oct 13, BNS – Andrej Savchuk, a former member of the management board at Lifosa and an employee of EuroChem, its shareholder, has been appointed CEO of the Lithuanian phosphate fertilizer plant that has suspended its operations due to sanctions against Russia.

He has worked for Germany's Helm AG Group for the past two years.

Savchuk will assume his new position after the Lithuanian authorities will complete the necessary formalities. His appointment has already been approved by Lifosa's interim administrator, the company said. 

Savchuk has worked in the fertilizer sector for 25 years, the company said, adding that his main goal is to restore safe and sustainable production and sales activities, the company statement reads.

Savchuk worked for EuroChem from 2007 to 2020, holding various executive positions. He served as a board member at Lifosa from 2015 to 2020.

Lifosa's accounts were frozen on March 9 after the EU imposed sanctions for Andrey Melnichenko, a Russian oligarch close to the Kremlin, and the company suspended its operations April 10. On May 24, a temporary administrator, Finance Guru, was appointed to ensure that Lifosa's operations remain in line with the existing international sanctions.

 

 

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Lithuanian schools can take in 26,000 more Ukrainian children – ministry

VILNIUS, Oct 14, BNS – Lithuanian schools can still take in up to 26,000 more Ukrainian children who have fled the war and taken refuge in the country, Education, Science and Sport Minister Jurgita Siugzdiniene said on Friday. 

The number of children from Ukraine registered with Lithuanian educational establishments totaled over 13,000 as of this week, the ministry said in a press release, noting that although the peak of refugee arrivals was recorded in spring, Ukrainians are still coming to Lithuania every week.

About 3,000 places for Ukrainian children are still available at Lithuanian kindergartens, it said.

On Thursday, the ministry hosted a live webcast for Ukrainian families to inform them about what educational services are available to Ukrainian children in Lithuania, and on how education, admission to universities and vocational training institutions, and assistance will be provided.

According to Siugzdiniene, the main goal is to make sure that Ukrainian children feel good in schools and part of the community. 

"I want to encourage everyone not to hesitate and to register for school, including children who are studying remotely in Ukrainian schools," the minister said in the press release. 

"Last week, I met with Ukraine's minister of education and science, and I am conveying his greetings, as well as his encouragement to register in schools, because this is an opportunity for children not only to study at school, but also to learn Lithuanian and make friends," she added. 

Based on information from the European Commission's Eurydice network as of 2022, Lithuania is one of nine countries that have successfully helped more than half of the children and young people who have arrived to integrate into general education schools. 

Ukrainians attend Lithuanian or national minority schools, or study remotely in schools approved by the Ukrainian state, or in Ukrainian schools that have received permission from the ministry to teach the Ukrainian curriculum. There are four such schools in Lithuania and the number is likely to increase.

A total of 68,000 Ukrainian refugees are officially registered in Lithuania and around 18,500 of them are of school age, according to the country's statistics office. 

 

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Half of cars in Vilnius could be electric by 2030 – mayor

VILNIUS, Oct 14, BNS – The Vilnius authorities aim to make sure that about half of all cars in the Lithuanian capital are electric by 2030, Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Simsius says, adding that there are plans to install some 2,000 charging stations on street light poles for them.

"Electric cars are the future. Our goal is to ensure that at least half of all cars in Vilnius are electric by 2030. Today, they make just over 1 percent. To achieve that, we need to make it convenient to charge an electric car," Simasius told reporters on Friday, presenting a plan for the development of slow-charging stations to be installed within the street lighting network.

There are now 9 such stations installed in Vilnius, and there are plans to install around 120 more fast and medium charging stations, the mayor said.

The goal is to install 100 slow charging stations on street light poles by the end of 2023, and to have at least 2,000 of them by 2030 in the capital's public spaces and closer to people's homes.

By Giedrius Gaidamavičius

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Bronze Age settlement found underwater in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Oct 14, BNS - A Bronze Age settlement has been discovered underwater in Lake Belys in Lithuania's Svencionys District, archaeologists say.

They found pile structures near the island and beams of wooden buildings scattered in the lake during sonar exploration of the lake's bed.

"Three rows of wooden piles were found on the submerged slope of the island, which is likely to be a defensive barrier protecting the access to the settlement on the island. Among the piles, many shards of striated pottery, animal bones used for food and burnt stones were found," the statement reads.

Archaeologists believe the island was the site of a fortified settlement from the late Bronze Age to the early Iron Age. Over time, the water level rose and some parts of the settlement structures went underwater, and wood and organic matter survived well in the wet environment.

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13 more Lithuanians, relatives move to Lithuania from Venezuela

VILNIUS, Oct 14, BNS - Another 13 people of Lithuanian descent and their family members have moved to Lithuania from Venezuela. They arrived in Vilnius on Thursday, the Foreign Ministry said.

The people were met by representatives of a Refugee Center who arranged temporary accommodation for them. Later on, the resettled persons will be provided allowances to cover settlement costs and basic needs, and, assistance will be provided regarding children's education, learning Lithuanian, finding employment, etc.

A total of 118 people have already been resettled from crisis-hit Venezuela.

"They have already settled in various Lithuanian cities, are working, studying and successfully integrating into the society," the report says, adding that around 40 more people are still waiting to move to Lithuania.

People's departure from Venezuela is hampered by problems due to invalid travel documents, health problems, Venezuelan bureaucratic obstacles and the existing movement restrictions in the country, the Foreign Ministry said.

The resettlement program for persons of Lithuanian descent and their family members from crisis-hit Venezuela has been running since September, 2019.

The Lithuanian community in Venezuela consists of around 400 people of Lithuanian descent. Some 1,000 Lithuanian citizens of people of Lithuanian descent are estimated to live in Venezuela.

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Supplying Ukraine with air defense systems is key to victory – Lithuania's Nauseda

VILNIUS, Oct 14, BNS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda had a phone call with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday and said that supplying Ukraine with air defense systems was key to the protection of civilians and the country's victory over Russian aggression.

"Ukraine's success in regaining the territories seized by Russia is a testimony to the heroism and unbreakable will of the Ukrainian people. I believe that with the West's swift assistance, you will succeed in pushing the aggressor out of your territories. Supplying Ukraine with air defense systems is a prerequisite for the protection of civilians and for achieving victory," Nauseda was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the presidential press service on Friday.

According to the Lithuanian president, this is "a struggle for peace and freedom for all of us, and Lithuania will support Ukraine until victory".

The West's rapid military support to Ukraine is of utmost importance, the Lithuanian leader said, adding that Lithuania will continue to actively call for increasing military assistance in all international formats, as well as for economic and financial assistance to Ukraine.

The Lithuanian and Ukrainian leaders also discussed Belarus' involvement in Russia's war in Ukraine. Nauseda noted that Belarus should be seen as Russia's full-fledged ally taking part in its military aggression in Ukraine. Therefore, Nauseda underlined, the existing Western sanctions must be tightened for both Russia and Belarus to prevent any possibility for them to circumvent them.

The Lithuanian president also congratulated his Ukrainian counterpart and all the people on the Day of Defenders of Ukraine.

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Lithuania-Poland unity in face of war is strength for whole region – Nauseda   

VILNIUS, Oct 14, BNS – The unity of Lithuania and Poland in the context of Russia's war against Ukraine is a great strength and their coordinated approach is a significant factor in the region's security, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said on Friday. 

Nauseda said in a press release after his phone call with Polish President Andrzej Duda that a consistent increase in defense spending by Lithuania and Poland "will have a positive impact on the region's defense capabilities".

This also sends a strong message to allies that the two countries are serious about security and defense, according to the Lithuanian president.

"The united voice of Lithuania and Poland in the context of Russia's war in Ukraine is our great strength," he said. 

"Together, we can both significantly improve the region's defense capabilities and more effectively help Ukraine in countering Russia's military aggression."

The Lithuanian and Polish leaders discussed the need to mobilize Western support for Ukraine and to tighten sanctions against Russia and Belarus.  

As Belarus is getting increasingly involved in Russia's military aggression against Ukraine, it has to be considered a full-fledged participant in the conflict, meaning that the existing sanctions against Minsk have to be expanded and its responsibility has to be discussed, according to Nauseda.   

 

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Metropolitan Innokenty to continue to lead Orthodox Church in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Oct 14, BNS - Metropolitan Innokenty will continue to lead the Orthodox Church in Lithuania after by the Moscow Synod left him in the position on Thursday.

"The Holy Synod has decided to bless Metropolitan Innokenty of Vilnius and Lithuania to continue to lead the Lithuanian Orthodox Archdiocese," representatives of the Lithuanian Orthodox Church said in a statement on Friday.

Metropolitan Innokenty has reached the age of 75 and, under the existing procedure, all hierarchs of the Moscow Patriarchate are required to apply to become emeritus after reaching this canonical age, and it's up to the Synod to decide whether to accept or refuse this request.

Leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church expressed their support for the country's war against Ukraine, sparking to international criticism and forcing the EU to consider possible sanctions for  Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. The move, however, was dropped at the last minute in June following objections from Hungary.

As some Lithuanian Orthodox priests slammed the Kremlin's invasion, Metropolitan Innokenty unfrocked four priests in late June as they were found guilty of canonical crimes.

The priests claimed the move was made in retaliation for their criticism of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which is backed by the Russian Orthodox Church.

The leadership of the Orthodox Church in Lithuanian says it condemns Russia's started war and says it has informed Moscow about it. This is why it denies the accusations made by the breakaway priests.

The unfrocked priests and some other Lithuanian Orthodox priests are asking the Patriarch of Constantinople to allow Lithuanian to restore its canonical subordination to him.

In response, the Lithuanian Orthodox Church has spoken publicly about its desire for greater autonomy. In July, Orthodox Bishop Amvrosijus met with Patriarch Kirill and later told reporters in Vilnius he had received a positive reaction from the patriarch to the proposal to grant the Lithuanian Orthodox Archdiocese the status of a self-governing church. The bishop then expressed his hope the request would be considered by the next Synod scheduled to meet in early August.

By Ignas Jačauskas

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Lithuanian president, NATO secgen talk Ukraine support, regional security

VILNIUS, Oct 14, BNS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda had a phone call with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Friday and discussed the regional security situation, ways to bolster the defense of NATO's eastern flank, as well as support to Ukraine.

During the conversation, Nauseda stressed that Russia is escalating its war in Ukraine by all means, the presidential press service said.

In his words, reports of a possible increase in the number of Russian troops deployed in the Belarusian territory and Belarus' possible direct involvement in Russia's military aggression against Ukraine is raising concern, the Lithuanian president said.

"Russia’s actions in escalating the war in Ukraine mean one thing only: NATO allies must be united as a fist and increase their support for Ukraine," the president said.

He called for a further increase in defense capability on NATO's eastern flank and also stepping up the transition from deterrence to forward defense.

The decisions made at the Madrid Summit must be implemented consistently to demonstrate the allied commitment to collective security and undivided unity, Nauseda underlined.

He also stressed the need to increase the air defense capability in the Baltic region and to supply air defense systems to Ukraine urgently, the presidential press service said.

"Lithuania takes national security very seriously and consistently increases its defense spending. We are committing significant resources to infrastructure development so we can host more allied troops in our territory," the president said. "We welcome the effective cooperation with Germany on this issue and look forward to the deployment of a full German brigade in Lithuania in the near future."

The Lithuanian president and the NATO secretary general also discussed the upcoming NATO Summit to be held in Vilnius next year, with Nauseda stressing that Lithuania is looking forward to an ambitious outcome of this meeting.

In response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, NATO agreed to reinforce its presence in NATO's eastern flank and to build allied brigades in countries, if needed.

Lithuania agreed on the development of such a brigade with Germany, but is now seeking a clear commitment from Berlin to permanently deploy such a military unit in the country.

 

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