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LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, October 13, 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Lithuania's conservative MPs banned from tabling budget ideas without Cabinet nod
  2. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, October 13, 2022
  3. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, October 13, 2022
  4. EU justice ministers to discuss new legal measures against Russia, human rights
  5. Lithuanian border guards prevent 41 migrants from crossing in from Belarus
  6. Lithuania reports 711 new COVID-19 cases, 4 deaths
  7. Lithuania provides EUR 5 mln via World Bank for urgent recovery effort in Ukraine
  8. Mentioning military issues to people with no understanding "mistake" – Anusauskas
  9. Energy crisis derails Lithuania's plan for 3 pct of GDP defense budget – minister 
  10. Lithuania's ex-president Adamkus discharged from hospital, his wife still in ICU
  11. Cruise season in Klaipeda reaches pre-pandemic levels this year – port
  12. Vilnius covers Soviet sculptures at Antakalnis Cemetary with black fabric
  13. Lithuania's NCSC, KTU launch free anti-cyber fraudster tool
  14. Lithuania joins German-led initiative to develop joint air defense in Europe 
  15. CNSD chair expects US to confirm uninterrupted presence of its troops in Lithuania
  16. NATO must assess all possible scenarios of Russian escalation – Lithuanian defmin
  17. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Friday, October 14, 2022
  18. Savchuk appointed CEO of Lithuania's Lifosa

Lithuania's conservative MPs banned from tabling budget ideas without Cabinet nod

VILNIUS, Oct 13, BNS – The presidium of the Homeland Union-Lithuanian Christian Democrats on Thursday instructed the ruling party's parliamentarians to vote only in favor of next year's budget proposals that have been approved by the government. 

The presidium's resolution, seen by BNS, obliges members of the Homeland Union's political group in the Seimas to support the government's proposed draft 2023 budget and related legislation during the debate and voting on the bill at the parliament.  

The conservative MPs were also instructed not to submit proposals for the budget bill and accompanying draft legislation that have not been greenlighted by the Cabinet and not to support other parliamentarians' budget proposals unless they have been coordinated with the government.

The presidium notes in the resolution that the 2023 state budget deficit limit set in the bill is close to five percent of GDP, a threshold that is important for the country's fiscal reputation.

Internal disagreements

Four conservative MPs – Mindaugas Skritulskas, Mykolas Majauskas, Justas Džiugelis and Kazys Starkevičius – on Tuesday backed the Freedom Party's proposal to keep the reduced 9 percent VAT rate for food serving businesses in place throughout 2023, rather than during the first half of the year as proposed by the government.

The Freedom Party's proposal passed the first vote in the parliament.   

According to the daily Lietuvos Rytas, the behavior of his fellow conservative MPs caused the patience of Gabrielius Landsbergis, the Homeland Union's leader, to snap during the parliamentary group's meeting on Tuesday.  

Reportedly, Landsbergis told the group's members that they had to support the government and its budget bill, adding that those who did not like it were free to leave the party and its parliamentary group. 

Radvile Morkunaite-Mikuleniene, head of the Homeland Union's political group, said on Thursday that she hoped that the parliament would manage to adopt a coherent and balanced budget.

"The government's draft budget for 2023 is oriented towards the most vulnerable members of our society, so the packages envisaged not only to help businesses, but also to increase people's incomes, I believe, will help to withstand the challenges of difficult times," Morkunaite-Mikuleniene told BNS.

The proposed measures "are empathetic and sensitive, but also rational, and based on a cautious approach to a future that is difficult to determine", the MP said. 

"That is why I would like to see the state budget remain coherent, without line-by-line adjustments where you give to some and take from others," she added. 

 

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, October 13, 2022

VILNIUS, Oct 13, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Thursday, October 13, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to meet with representatives of the Second Investigation Department under the Ministry of National Defense and the Lithuanian army at 9 a.m.

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to chair a meeting of the Board of the Seimas at 9 a.m.; to meet with Auditor General Mindaugas Macijauskas at 10.10 a.m.; to met with Rimantas Sadzius, a member of the European Court of Auditors, at 1.30 p.m.; to meet with Stasys Sedbaras, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs, at 2 p.m.

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to chair a Cabinet meeting on the construction of the physical barrier on the border with Belarus at 10 a.m.

NATIONAL DEFENSE MINISTER Arvydas Anusauskas to meet with his NATO counterparts Brussels.

CULTURE MINISTER Simonas Kairys to meet with Matthieu Peyraud, director for culture, education, research & networking coordination from the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs at 9.30 a.m.

JUSTICE MINISTER Ewelina Dobrowolska attending a meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers in Luxembourg.

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Thursday, October 13, 2022

VILNIUS, Oct 13, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Thursday, October 13, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to meet with representatives of the Second Investigation Department under the Ministry of National Defense and the Lithuanian army at 9 a.m.

SPEAKER OF THE SEIMAS Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen to chair a meeting of the Board of the Seimas at 9 a.m.; to meet with Auditor General Mindaugas Macijauskas at 10.10 a.m.; to met with Rimantas Sadzius, a member of the European Court of Auditors, at 1.30 p.m.; to meet with Stasys Sedbaras, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs, at 2 p.m.

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to chair a Cabinet meeting on the construction of the physical barrier on the border with Belarus at 10 a.m.

NATIONAL DEFENSE MINISTER Arvydas Anusauskas to meet with his NATO counterparts Brussels.

CULTURE MINISTER Simonas Kairys to meet with Matthieu Peyraud, director for culture, education, research & networking coordination from the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs at 9.30 a.m.

JUSTICE MINISTER Ewelina Dobrowolska attending a meeting of EU justice and home affairs ministers in Luxembourg.

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EU justice ministers to discuss new legal measures against Russia, human rights

VILNIUS, Oct 13, BNS – Lithuanian Justice Minister Ewelina Dobrowolska on Thursday is meeting with her EU counterparts to discuss possible additional legal measures in response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine, and the upholding of fundamental rights in times of crises, the Lithuanian Justice Ministry has said. 

Dobrowolska says that Lithuania is raising the issue of how to create an effective mechanism for the confiscation and use of frozen sanctioned assets to compensate Ukraine, its citizens and citizens of EU member states who have suffered damage because of Russia's war, according to the ministry's press release.

When it comes to upholding fundamental rights, the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic are important for Lithuania and the EU as a whole, as the practice of cooperation with civil society organizations is being used both in taking in refugees from Ukraine and in providing assistance to Ukraine, it said.

The EU Justice and Home Affairs Council is holding a meeting in Luxembourg.

 

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Lithuanian border guards prevent 41 migrants from crossing in from Belarus

VILNIUS, Oct 13, BNS – Lithuanian border guards have in the past 24 hours turned away 41 migrants attempting to cross into the country from Belarus illegally, the State Border Guard Service (SBGS) said on Thursday morning.

Latvia recorded no attempts to cross the border illegally on Wednesday, and Polish border guards denied entry to 57 irregular migrants away on Tuesday, 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 9,179 irregular migrants have been stopped from entering Lithuania since January. 

Lithuanian border guards have sent over 17,200 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 about a year ago, a "hybrid attack" by the Minsk regime. 

 

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Lithuania reports 711 new COVID-19 cases, 4 deaths

VILNIUS, Oct 12, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 711 new coronavirus infections and four deaths from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Thursday morning.

Of the new cases, 536 were primary, 168 were secondary and seven were tertiary.

One of the fatalities was a person in their 30s who was not vaccinated. 

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 now stands at 186, including 13 ICU cases.

The 14-day primary infection rate has edged down to 386 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests down to 31.7 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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Lithuania provides EUR 5 mln via World Bank for urgent recovery effort in Ukraine

VILNIUS, Oct 13, BNS – Lithuania is providing 5 million euros through the World Bank for urgent reconstruction work in Ukraine, it was announced during a roundtable discussion in in Washington, D.C. on mobilizing financial support for the war-ravaged country.

Lithuania is contributing the additional 5 million euros to the Ukraine Relief, Recovery, and Reconstruction Trust Fund (URTF) set up by the World Bank to help finance immediate recovery efforts in the country, the Finance Ministry said in a press release on Thursday.

"In order to ensure that financial assistance reaches Ukraine as quickly and efficiently as possible, Lithuania will allocate 5 million euros to the World Bank's newly created instrument, the main purpose of which is to contribute, in the near future, to the reconstruction of Ukraine in regions where hostilities are no longer taking place," Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste said in the press release. 

"It is also important that reconstruction in part of the country is starting right now, without waiting for the end of hostilities in other areas," she added.  

The new URTF will cover the preparation for the implementation of reconstruction projects and the implementation of the most necessary projects at this stage, such as the restoration of essential energy, transport and social infrastructure, according to the Finance Ministry. 

The World Bank says the URTF is expected to raise 100 million to 200 million US dollars this year, and then about 1 billion dollars annually.

The contributing donor countries will participate in the URTF Partnership Council, oversee the trust fund's activities, and make recommendations on its strategy and operations.

The ministry notes that this is not the first time Lithuania has provided financial assistance to Ukraine through the World Bank's instruments.

 At the very start of Russia's war in Ukraine, Lithuania provided a grant of 5 million euros to the World Bank's trust fund focused on supporting the Ukrainian economy.

Also, Lithuania has provided a 10-million-euro guarantee for a World Bank loan to Kyiv under the Public Expenditures for Administrative Capacity Endurance in Ukraine (PEACE) project.

 

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Mentioning military issues to people with no understanding "mistake" – Anusauskas

VILNIUS, Oct 13, BNS – It was a mistake to talk about military technical matters with "people who have little or no understanding", Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Arvydas Anusauskas says, referring to the situation around the deployment of a German army brigade in Lithuania.

"Probably, it was certainly a mistake to mention military technicalities to people who have little or no understanding," Anusauskas said in an interview with the public radio LRT on Thursday, asked whether he had made a mistake in mentioning ten days as a sufficient time frame for the brigade's arrival.

"Every military unit has a certain level of readiness, how long it takes to move, and in this case this is not a political thesis or agreement, but information of a military nature, and all agreements we have with Germany are still valid. The German side has made it very clear that the infrastructure projects we are developing allow them to increase step by step both their capability and capacity in Lithuania, and to bring all of this up to the brigade level," Anusauskas said.

Representing the ruling conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, Anusauskas came under fire from both the opposition and his own party when last week he agreed with German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht's position that it was sufficient to put the German brigade assigned to Lithuania on standby for it to arrive in Lithuania within ten days, if needed.

Joining her at the press conference, Anusauskas said such a time frame was sufficient to react to the build-up of military forces at the country's borders, which Ukraine's experience showed.

In response to criticism from his fellow party members, the defense minister said Laurynas Kasciunas, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense, "in fact did not understand at all what he was talking about when he was talking about me mentioning the 90 days and the comparison with Ukraine".

"In this case, I was not talking about comparing Ukraine and Lithuania, I was talking about how fast intelligence information is delivered and the reaction to that intelligence information, and this is a completely different context," Anusauskas said.

Earlier, Lithuanian officials said they wanted Germany to permanently deploy a brigade of 3,000 to 4,000 troops in Lithuania. And the position was reiterated by Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis on Monday when he pointed out that Lithuania and Germany's agreement this summer was for the German brigade to be deployed in Lithuania, and not on its readiness to come, if needed.

Signed by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz in June, the joint communique states that "in addition to the current and reinforced enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group already in place, Germany is ready to lead a robust and combat-ready brigade in Lithuania dedicated to deter and defend against Russian aggression".

Initially, led by a permanently deployed Brigade Forward Command Element in Lithuania, this brigade will consist of German combat forces specifically designated for this purpose, potentially augmented by possible multinational contributions.

The aforementioned forward presence command element was deployed in Lithuania in September.

By Milena Andrukaitytė

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Energy crisis derails Lithuania's plan for 3 pct of GDP defense budget – minister 

VILNIUS, Oct 13, BNS – Lithuania's defense budget for 2023 had been planned with a target of spending 3 percent of GDP on national defense, but the plans had to be adjusted due to the energy crisis, Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said on Thursday.    

"Actually, we even had a plan to use 3 percent," the minister told LRT Radio. "That plan has not disappeared anywhere, but just after that plan was drawn up, the energy crisis hit (...), which caused borrowing levels to rise, and this, of course, ruins these plans."

Anusauskas said he is not abandoning the 3-percent-of-GDP defense spending target, but added that the crisis situation has to be taken into consideration.

"I am not giving up my 3 percent target, but it is a government decision and part of responsible financial management," the minister said. "I am a member of the Cabinet and we take decisions collectively."

"Once again, if we eliminated all the other factors draining the financial resources of the state, our financial situation would be different. It is just that the whole picture, economic and financial, has to be taken into account," he said. 

"I do hope that when the crisis is over and resources are freed up, we will continue to move toward three percent," Anusauskas added.

President Gitanas Nauseda has repeatedly suggested increasing Lithuania's defense spending to 3 percent of GDP next year. 

Finance Minister Gintare Skaiste maintains that doing so would bring Lithuania's budget deficit above 5 percent of GDP, which would significantly increase its borrowing costs.

Last week, the government proposed to allocate more than 1.77 billion euros, or 2.52 percent of next year's projected GDP, to national defense.

 

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Lithuania's ex-president Adamkus discharged from hospital, his wife still in ICU

VILNIUS, Oct 13, BNS – Lithuania's former President Valdas Adamkus on Thursday is being discharged from hospital, where he was admitted for COVID-19, but his wife, Alma Adamkiene, remains in the intensive care unit.

"President Valdas Adamkus is being discharged from Santaros Klinikos today for further outpatient treatment at home," Bozena Bagonaitiene, his aide, told BNS. 

"Mrs. Alma Adamkiene continues to be treated in the intensive care unit," she added.

The 95-year-old former president was diagnosed with the coronavirus in late September. He was initially treated at home, but later his condition got worse and he was admitted to Vilnius University Hospital Santaros Klinikos, 

His wife, who is also 95 years old, has been treated in the same hospital in Vilnius since September 28.   

The hospital said earlier this week that although Adamkiene remained under intensive care, her condition showed a tendency toward improvement.

 

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Cruise season in Klaipeda reaches pre-pandemic levels this year – port

KLAIPEDA, Lithuania, Oct 13, BNS – The cruise season in Klaipeda reached pre-pandemic levels this year, with the number of ship calls surpassing the five-year average, the port said on Thursday. 

"We practically reached the 2019 level," Algis Latakas, the port's CEO, told a news conference. "It was a good year and a great season: 61 ships (visited Klaipeda), which is not a record number but above the five-year average of 55 ships." 

The port welcomed 61 cruise ships and almost 47,000 passengers during the 2022 season, which opened on April 11 and closed on October 8. Compared to 2019, the number of ships increased by one-fifth, from 51, but the number of passengers, declined by 31 percent, from 68,500 passengers.   

According to Latakas, twelve cruise ships arrived in Klaipeda for the first time this year, and 42 vessels were longer than 200 meters. 

Around ten cruise ships were too large to visit Klaipeda, the CEO said, adding that the number of very large vessels is rising in the world and the port is preparing for this. 

"Such ships need special infrastructure. Companies renewed their fleets during the pandemic, ordering about 30 new cruise ships," he said. "Yes, ships are increasing (in size), and the port is reacting to this." 

Klaipeda expected 80 cruise ship calls during the 2022 season, but some visits were cancelled as some vessels changed their routes due to the war in Ukraine, bypassing the Baltic countries and heading to Scandinavia instead.

By Valdas Pryšmantas

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Vilnius covers Soviet sculptures at Antakalnis Cemetary with black fabric

VILNIUS, Oct 13, BNS – The Soviet soldiers' sculptures were covered with a black fabric at Antakalnis Cemetery in Vilnius as the local authorities await the possibility of removing them later.

Workers from Grinda, a municipal company, had been working at the Soviet memorial since Thursday morning, and the sculptures were covered before noon, a BNS photo correspondent at the scene confirmed.

Vilnius councilors unanimously backed plans to remove the six grey granite statues featuring Soviet WWII soldiers in early June after they were removed from the register of immovable cultural property by the heritage authorities. However, this could not be done until as the local municipality had to take over the sculptures.

Last week, the Vilnius Council made the final step for the removal of the sculptures by taking over their ownership.

However, the municipality's plans to carry out the works before November 1, when the dead are honored in Lithuania, were thwarted by the UN Human Rights Committee's decision to introduce interim measures. 

The Lithuanian Justice Ministry later sent explanations to the committee. While the correspondence is ongoing, the municipality has decided to cover the statues with a cloth. Vilnius Mayor Remigijus Simasius says this has been done to "not to annoy people" and to protect against possible acts of vandalism, as there have recently been at least several incidents when the statues were defaced.

Under the plan, Vilniaus BDT will remove the statues for 48,000 euros.

In Lithuania, some Soviet monuments are being dismantled in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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Lithuania's NCSC, KTU launch free anti-cyber fraudster tool

VILNIUS, Oct 13, BNS – Lithuania's National Cyber Security Center and specialists from Kaunas University of Technology have developed a free tool for people and organizations to protect themselves from cyber fraud attacks.

Known as a DNS firewall, the new tool will prevent access to known malicious websites while surfing the internet, the center said on Thursday.

"This means that even if a user clicks on a link sent by a scammer, they will not sustain any harm as the malicious address will be blocked and the user will be notified," Deividas Stumbras, director of the NCSC's Cyber Defense Department, said in a statement.

A DNS firewall is a public DNS service with an additional security feature. It differs from the regular Domain Name System in that it is equipped with additional protection against cyber threats, such as fake banking sites, fraudulent trading platforms, sites that distribute malicious codes, and other harmful sites confirmed by the NCSC.

The tool is free, the center said, adding that the system will only block known malicious websites, but will not monitor browsing content or collect user information in any way.

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Lithuania joins German-led initiative to develop joint air defense in Europe 

VILNIUS, Oct 13, BNS – Lithuania has joined the German-led European Sky Shield Initiative to develop air defense capabilities in Europe through joint acquisitions, the Defense Ministry said on Thursday. 

Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas and his counterparts from 14 other countries – Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, the Slovak Republic, Slovenia and the United Kingdom – signed in Brussels a letter of intent for the development of the initiative. 

According to the Lithuanian ministry, the initiative is aimed at carrying out joint acquisitions, developing the capabilities of the ground-based air defense systems of NATO's European countries and improving their interoperability, including with the Alliance's Integrated Air and Missile Defense System (NATINAMDS).

A key element of the initiative is Germany's air defense development program covering the procurement of all classes of air defense systems (very short, short, medium, long-range, and anti-missile and anti-UAV) in the short and medium term, the ministry said in a press release.

"Joining this initiative will enable the Lithuanian Armed Forces to plan joint acquisitions with the German Armed Forces," it quoted Anusauskas as saying. 

"Of the proposed package of air defense systems, the most relevant for the Lithuanian Armed Forces is the package of very short-range/counter UAV systems," he added.  

Attention to air defenses on NATO's eastern flank has intensified in light of increased threats after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

The idea of jointly developing air defense capabilities in Europe was raised by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in August.

 

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CNSD chair expects US to confirm uninterrupted presence of its troops in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Oct 13, BNS – Laurynas Kasciunas, chairman of the Lithuanian parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense, expects US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to confirm on Friday a commitment on uninterrupted presence of American troops in Lithuania for several years.

Austin is scheduled to meet the defense ministers from Bucharest Nine countries, including Lithuania, in Brussels on Friday.

"Throughout the year, we have sought permanent and uninterrupted American presence in Lithuania, and we have been working hard on this in various formats. I am very confident that this is the message that will reach us on Friday," the lawmaker told BNS on Thursday, asked what kind of news could be expected from the Brussels meeting.

"I do believe we will have uninterrupted battalion presence on a rotational basis, along with a higher level of combat readiness, with more combat power," Kasciunas said, adding that the rotation of the American battalion and the assignment of the German brigade to Lithuania are very important in deterring enemies.

"The American presence in the region is the biggest deterrent. I believe it will contribute to our security and send a very strong signal to our enemies that it's simply not worth stepping into the territory of our country with their dirty boots," Kasciunas said.

US battalions have been rotating in Lithuania since 2019, while rotational companies were deployed in Lithuania in 2014-2017.

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 army equipment began their rotation of at least nine months in Lithuania.

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NATO must assess all possible scenarios of Russian escalation – Lithuanian defmin

VILNIUS, Oct 13, BNS - NATO needs to assess all possible scenarios of Russian escalation, says Lithuanian National Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas attending a meeting of allied defense ministers.

Anusauskas met with his NATO countries in Brussels on Thursday and discussed Russia's war against Ukraine, assessed progress in strengthening NATO's defense and deterrence, discussed nuclear deterrence and the need to jointly strengthen the protection of critical infrastructure, the ministry said.

"This week's Russian missile attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine show that we need to further strengthen our support to Ukraine. NATO needs to strengthen its defense and deterrence and properly assess all possible scenarios of Russian escalation. The irresponsible behavior of Belarus is also raising concern," the minister stressed in his remarks.

During the meetings, the defense ministers also discussed the need for closer coordination on joint defense acquisitions in order to accelerate the build-up of weapons stocks.

Anusauskas stressed that "countries close to the front line cannot wait for years for new equipment and ammunition".

"In the context of Russia's war against Ukraine, NATO's closer cooperation with the defense industry is essential to maintain support to Ukraine and protect NATO," Anusauskas said.

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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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Savchuk appointed CEO of Lithuania's Lifosa

VILNIUS, Oct 13, BNS – Andryi Savchuk has been appointed CEO of Lifosa, a Lithuanian phosphate fertilizer producer based in Kedainiai, after previously serving as a member of the company's board. He has until now served as CEO Germany's Helm AG group.

Lifosa was forced to suspend its operations earlier this year due to the existing sanctions for Russia.

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 and held various executive positions and was also the company's CEO. 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, Financų Guru, was appointed to ensure that Lifosa's operations remain in line with the existing international sanctions.

 

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Oct 17 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN, October 10, 2022

LITHUANIA DAILY NEWS BULLETIN


IN THIS ISSUE:

  1. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Monday, October 10, 2022
  2. President Nauseda to meet German troops deployed to Lithuania 
  3. German brigade would be moved to Lithuania within 10 days in crisis – ministers 
  4. Lithuania to join Germany's European air defense initiative – minister 
  5. Lithuania reports 60 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death
  6. Lithuania to buy eight HIMARS systems from US, expects to sign contract by December
  7. Putin will use grain to blackmail again in winter – Lithuania's Landsbergis
  8. PM, econmin invite to French businesses to invest in Lithuania
  9. Lithuania condemns Russia's strikes on Ukrainian civilians as sign of desperation 
  10. Russia will try to destabilize situation as it's losing in Ukraine – Lithuania's Nauseda
  11. Russia will try to destabilize situation as it's losing in Ukraine – Lithuania's Nauseda (expands)
  12. Lithuanian president calls 2023 budget bill "a serious step forward" (expands)
  13. Russia will try to destabilize situation as it's losing in Ukraine – Lithuania's Nauseda (further expands)
  14. Germany has plans for brigade exercises in Lithuania – president
  15. Lithuanian president suggests borrowing up to 3 pct of GDP for defense
  16. NATO jets in Baltics scrambled 4 times over Russian aircraft last week
  17. Poland joins regional cyber defense centre in Lithuania – ministry
  18. Lithuania receives 138,200 doses of Omicron-adapted coronavirus vaccine
  19. Lukashenko wants attention when accusing West of plotting attacks -Lithuania's Landsbergis
  20. I want to believe Russia's new attacks will "wake up the napping West" – Landsbergis
  21. Lithuanian, Germany agreed on brigade deployment – Landsbergis
  22. Lithuanian parlt postpones 3rd electricity market liberalization until January, 2026
  23. Upcoming events in Lithuania for Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Upcoming events in Lithuania for Monday, October 10, 2022

VILNIUS, Oct 010, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Monday, October 10, 2022:

PRESIDENT Gitanas Nauseda to meet with troops from the German brigade headquarters and battalion deployed in Lithuania at Gaiziunai Training Area in Rukla at 10 a.m.; followed by comments to the press at 11.30 a.m.

THE LITHUANIAN ARMY

Combat shooting as part of the international Exercise Fast Griffin will take place at the Gaiziunai Training Area of the Great Lithuanian Hetman Jonusas Radvila Training Regiment in Jonava district)., with the opportunity to interview President Gitanas Nauseda, Lithuanian Chief of Defense Valdemaras Rupsyss and Brigadier General Christian Nawrat, commander of the Germany army's 41st Tank Brigade.

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President Nauseda to meet German troops deployed to Lithuania 

VILNIUS, Oct 10, BNS – President Gitanas Nauseda on Monday is going to Rukla, in the central district of Jonava, to meet with members of the forward command element of the German brigade assigned to Lithuania.

The president's office has said that he will also meet with troops from the brigade's battalion, in Lithuania for Exercise Fast Griffin, and will observe the battalion's firing drills at the Gaiziunai training area. 

Some 250 military personnel and 80 military vehicles arrived in Lithuania last week for the first joint training event since the agreement with Germany on the assignment of the brigade to Lithuania was reached in June. 

The Lithuanian Armed Forces have said that the brigade's forward command element has been deployed to Lithuania for permanent presence since September, and the brigade's "components are in Germany, pre-assigned and combat-ready in no notice". 

The aim of the joint exercise of Lithuania's King Mindaugas Hussar Battalion and the German allies in is to integrate the German brigade into Lithuania's defense plans.

Germany is also leading NATO's multinational battalion stationed in Lithuania since 2017.

 

By Milena Andrukaitytė

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German brigade would be moved to Lithuania within 10 days in crisis – ministers 

RUKLA, Lithuania, Oct 10, BNS – The German brigade assigned to Lithuania will not be permanently stationed in the country, but would be moved to Lithuania within 10 days in a crisis, the two countries' defense ministers have said.  

"We will ensure that the brigade can be moved to Lithuania in a short period of time, within 10 days. It is therefore very important that we do exercises on a regular basis," German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht told a news conference in Rukla, in central Lithuania, on Saturday. 

In Rukla, Lambrecht and her Lithuanian counterpart, Arvydas Anusauskas, inaugurated the forward command element of the brigade assigned to Lithuania a few months ago, and observed the unit's first exercise.  

Some 250 military personnel and 80 military vehicles arrived in Lithuania last week for the exercise.

Apart from the command element, the rest of the brigade will be stationed in Germany and will come to Lithuania for drills, according to Lambrecht.

"Individual units, or perhaps even the full brigade, will come to Lithuania and train here," she said. 

Anusauskas said the German brigade would be deployed to Lithuania within ten days in the event of a crisis, adding that this would be fast enough. 

"In Ukraine's case, the information about the concentration of Russian forces on its border was known for almost 90 days," he said.

Earlier, Lithuanian officials said they wanted the German brigade to be permanently deployed to the country.

Developing infrastructure

Lithuania currently lacks the infrastructure to accommodate a larger number of allied troops, and the brigade consists of around 3,000 to 4,000 troops.

Lambrecht says that Germany will deploy more ammunition and weapons to Lithuania, which will make it easier to move troops between the countries.

"It is important to take these steps as we prepare to move the entire brigade here," she said. 

According to Anusauskas, Lithuania is developing its military infrastructure and training areas to ensure the necessary conditions for allied troops' presence in the country.

In preparation for hosting more allied troops, Lithuania has announced plans to build three new military complexes with a capacity of accommodating 800 troops each, and to expand other barracks.

'Lithuania can count on us' 

Berlin and Vilnius agreed on the brigade's assignment and deployment to Lithuania in June, amid concerns about the security of the Alliance's eastern flank in the wake of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Anusauskas described Russia as a direct and long-term threat.

"Germany's leadership following the decision to reinforce the forward presence in Lithuania (...) shows Germany's commitment to security in the entire Baltic region," he said. 

Lambrecht said that "Lithuania can count on us".

"We are ready to defend each other and stand by each other's side, as allied partners should", she said.

Germany is also leading NATO's multinational battalion stationed in Lithuania since 2017.

 

 

By Saulius Jakučionis

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Lithuania to join Germany's European air defense initiative – minister 

RUKLA, Lithuania, Oct 10, BNS – Lithuania will join Germany's initiative to bolster Europe's air defense, Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas has said. 

"I confirmed during the meeting today that we will participate in this European air defense initiative," he told journalists in Rukla on Saturday after meeting with his German counterpart, Christine Lambrecht. 

Anusauskas did not specify in what form the country would participate in the initiative.

According to Lambrecht, Germany expects to sign a letter of intent on the development of a European air defense system with its allies at NATO defense ministers' meeting scheduled for October 12-13. 

In the German minister's words, air defense in Europe is an area "where improvements are needed".

"This is why Germany has taken this initiative," she said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in August proposed creating a missile defense system in northern and eastern Europe.  

 

By Saulius Jakučionis

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Lithuania reports 60 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death

VILNIUS, Oct 10, BNS – Lithuania has recorded 60 new coronavirus infections and one death from COVID-19 over the past 24 hours, official statistics showed on Monday morning.

Of the new cases, 55 were primary, four were secondary and one was tertiary.

The number of patients hospitalized with COVID-19 now stands at 185, including eight ICU cases.

The 14-day primary infection rate has edged down to 451.2 cases per 100,000 people, with the seven-day percentage of positive tests down to 33.9 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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Lithuania to buy eight HIMARS systems from US, expects to sign contract by December

VILNIUS, Oct 10, BNS – Lithuania is planning to purchase eight M142 HIMARS multiple rocket launchers from the United States, with the contract expected to be signed by December, Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas has said. 

"(As to) the contract, the Americans have given practically 90 percent assurances that this is going happen by the start of December," he told BNS. "This is a separate system and eight launchers, launch systems." 

The systems are expected to be delivered to Lithuania in 2025. 

According to Anusauskas, Latvia and Estonia are buying six HIMARS systems each. 

After the Lithuanian government last week increase the country's planned 2022 defense spending by 148 million euros, the minister said that some 60 million euros of the money would be allocated for HIMARS systems this year.

The additional funding will also be used for the acquisition of Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV), medium-range radars and ammunition.

The US has sent HIMARS systems to Ukraine as part of its military aid to the country which is fighting back against Russia's invasion.  

 

By Ignas Jačauskas

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Putin will use grain to blackmail again in winter – Lithuania's Landsbergis

VILNIUS, Oct 10, BNS - Russian President Vladimir Putin will again try to block Ukraine's grain exports this winter, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says, adding that Kyiv needs help.

"Judging by past performance and knowing that he is open to using starvation as a weapon, it seems likely that Putin will again try to blackmail the world by blockading Ukraine's grain this winter," Landsbergis tweeted on Sunday.

"We can permanently limit Putin's ability to threaten the world's food supplies. We can empower Ukraine to defend her seas and restore her economy. Let's do this sooner rather than later," the foreign minister said.

In his words, EU's ATALANTA mission is already protecting shipping from piracy in the Western Indian Ocean, and this model could be used in the Black Sea too.

"Putin's use of grain as a tool for blackmail must be stopped. We must get serious about stopping it. We can build defenses against it," Landsbergis wrote. "We simply cannot trust the occupier that is stealing Ukraine's grain to be honest in negotiations over exporting Ukraine's grain."

In his words, longer-range coastal defenses in the Black Sea along with military escorts for shipping would boost Ukraine's economy, secure grain exports and avert a global food crisis.

"Sooner or later we will inevitably have to strengthen security in the Black Sea, especially if Putin refuses to renew the "Grain for Peace" deal in November, which he is already threatening to do.

Ukraine also needs leverage to expand the categories of products that can be exported, thereby regaining her economic sovereignty and increasing her ability to fight and rebuild. We can supply this leverage," Lithuania's top diplomat said.

Moscow's military invasion launched in late February paralyzed Ukraine's wheat exports as its ports were blocked and mined. An agreement brokered by Ankara in the second half of July helped to end the Russian blockade and allowed the shipment of grain from the port of Odessa to start. This helped to alleviate the global food crisis, with food becoming very expensive in some of the poorest countries.

Under the Ukraine-Russia agreement with the United Nations and Turkey, a joint coordination center was formally opened to control Ukrainian grain exports through the Black Sea and to ensure that ships do not carry illegal cargo, such as arms.

Western leaders accuse the Kremlin of cynically using food as a weapon and of waging an imperial-style predatory war.

By Jurgita Andriejauskaitė

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PM, econmin invite to French businesses to invest in Lithuania

VILNIUS, Oct 10, BNS – Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrid Simonyte and Economy and Innovation Minister Ausrine Armonaite will take part in a Lithuanian-French business forum in Paris this week where they will invite French businessmen to invest in Lithuania.

"France is one of Lithuania's most important economic partners and a priority export market for our country. The Franco-Lithuanian Business Forum in Paris will open up even more opportunities for our country's businesses to establish useful contacts and attract more investments," Armonaite said in a statement.

During her meetings with French business representatives, the minister plans to present the country's investment and tax environment, Lithuania's strong business sectors that are of interest to foreign investors. Armonaite will also present the Green Corridor initiative, as well as the benefits of setting up in free economic zones and industrial parks.

During her visit to France, Simonyte is scheduled to meet her French counterpart Elisabeth Borne, and Mathias Cormann, secretary general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

During the visit, the prime minister will also address the OECD Council, open the Franco-Lithuanian Business Forum, and meet with members of the Lithuanian-French community. The prime minister is also scheduled to visit Sciences-Po, Paris School of International Affairs, and have a public discussion with the school's academic community, as well as an informal lunch with French political scientists, journalists and intellectuals.

The visit is expected to focus on strengthening bilateral cooperation between Lithuania and France, Russia's war against Ukraine, Europe's energy security, support for Ukraine, EU sanctions against Russia and support for military aggression against Belarus.

French investment in Lithuania amounted to 711 million euros in the second quarter of this year, ranking France 11th in terms of investment in Lithuania last year. More than 100 French companies are currently operating in Lithuania. 

Armonaite will also take part in an informal discussion with OECD ambassadors and will present Lithuania's assistance measures for Ukraine. The discussion will focus on how the OECD could help Ukraine attract investment for a sustainable economic recovery.

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Lithuania condemns Russia's strikes on Ukrainian civilians as sign of desperation 

VILNIUS, Oct 10, BNS – The Lithuanian Foreign Ministry on Monday condemned Russia's missile strikes on civilians in Ukrainian cities, saying that such attacks are a sign of desperation.

"Russian forces' attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in Ukraine are in flagrant violation of international humanitarian law and its protection of civilians in conflict," the ministry said in a statement. "Russia's choice of terror tactics shows the desperation of the regime."  

The ministry "strongly condemns the bombing of Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities by the Russian armed forces, targeting innocent civilians and civilian infrastructure".

Ukrainian officials and media reported on Monday morning that Russia had carried out missile strikes on a number of Ukrainian cities.

At least five blasts were heard in Kyiv. Local police say five people were killed and 12 others injured.

Ukrainian media also reported explosions in Dnipro, Khmelnytskyi, Ternopil, Zhytomyr, Kharkiv, and in the Ivano-Frankivsk region.

According to the Lithuanian Foreign Ministry, Russia must be held accountable for the attacks under international law.

The ministry demands that Russia immediately cease its aggression against Ukraine and withdraw its troops from all Ukrainian territory.

 

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Russia will try to destabilize situation as it's losing in Ukraine – Lithuania's Nauseda

RUKLA, Jonava District, Lithuania, Oct 10, BNS – Russia will try to further destabilize the situation as it's losing in Ukraine, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says, commenting on Russian's latest shelling in Ukraine.

"We have to be ready for Russia, the Kremlin regime, trying to destabilize the situation more and more and taking desperate action as it's losing in Ukraine, and this certainly increases the overall risk, both in Ukraine and elsewhere," Nauseda told reporters in Rukla on Monday.

In his words, Russia must come under increased pressed through international sanctions.

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Russia will try to destabilize situation as it's losing in Ukraine – Lithuania's Nauseda (expands)

RUKLA, Jonava District, Lithuania, Oct 10, BNS – Russia will try to further destabilize the situation as it's losing in Ukraine, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says, commenting on Russian's latest shelling in Ukraine.

"We have to be ready for Russia, the Kremlin regime, trying to destabilize the situation more and more and taking desperate action as it's losing in Ukraine, and this certainly increases the overall risk, both in Ukraine and elsewhere," Nauseda told reporters in Rukla on Monday.

In his words, Russia must come under increased pressed through international sanctions.

"A lot of red lines have been crossed, and a few more remain. These are the most terrible red lines, and I mean the threat of nuclear weapons," the president said.

Ukraine reported on Monday that a number of Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, had come under Russia's missile attack, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saying that energy infrastructure was targeted.

Local officials report that people have been killed and injured in the attacks.

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Lithuanian president calls 2023 budget bill "a serious step forward" (expands)

VILNIUS, Oct 10, BNS – The government's 2023 budget bill is a serious step forward, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says, hoping that some things will be improved when the budget will be considered by lawmakers as both the ruling block and the opposition will pool their efforts on this.

"Certainly many of the comments have been taken into account, and in fact we voiced our expectation for a clear plan to reassure our population as we approach the cold season. We also called for a very clear business support plan, which has also been presented, and when all the measures are taken together, the package is not that small, up to around 4.5 percent of GDP," Nauseda told reporters in Rukla on Monday. "This is a good step forward, I can really say, a serious step forward."

The president, however, missed more targeted measures for particularly vulnerable groups, such as poor families with children.

"But I think we will certainly be able to adjust and improve some things during the deliberation, and I hope that all political parties, both the ruling coalition and the opposition, will work intensively, not to undermine anyone, but to make the budget bill even better," the president said.

The Lithuanian government on Friday approved the 2023 state budget bill and it will be put before the country's parliament, the Seimas, next week.

State budget revenue will grow by 3.4 percent next year (510 million euros) to stand at 15.62 billion euros, including EU funds. Expenditure is projected to go up by 6.1 percent (1.07 billion euros) to 18.61 billion euros.

The projected state budget deficit stands at 4.9 percent, and the public debt will rise to 43 percent of GDP.

The state plans to spend 1.930 billion euros to mitigate the impact of energy price increases on households and businesses.

The state vows to compensate for the public electricity price for households to make sure it will not exceed 28 cents per KWh in the first half of the year and 33 cents in the second half.

Businesses would be state compensation for electricity prices exceeding 24 cents per KWh in the last quarter of this year and 28 cents in the first quarter of next year.

Also, businesses with energy costs amounting to at least 10 percent will also have their tax recovery suspended until late April.

Moreover, 1.552 billion euros will be spent on raising residential income over the next year, 275 million euros will be spent on security, and the state will spend more than 2.9 billion euros on investments in various areas, using different funding sources.

By Erika Alonderytė-Kazlauskė

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Russia will try to destabilize situation as it's losing in Ukraine – Lithuania's Nauseda (further expands)

RUKLA, Jonava District, Lithuania, Oct 10, BNS – Russia will try to further destabilize the situation as it's losing in Ukraine, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says, commenting on Russian's latest shelling in Ukraine.

"We have to be ready for Russia, the Kremlin regime, trying to destabilize the situation more and more and taking desperate action as it's losing in Ukraine, and this certainly increases the overall risk, both in Ukraine and elsewhere," Nauseda told reporters in Rukla on Monday.

In his words, Russia must come under increased pressed through international sanctions.

"A lot of red lines have been crossed, and a few more remain. These are the most terrible red lines, and I mean the threat of nuclear weapons," the president said.

Commenting on the recent attacks, Speaker of the Seimas Viktorija Cmilyte-Nielsen said the West is still not doing enough, stressing the need to sanction Russia to the maximum extent possible for the country to be excluded from international formats where it is still present, and to also help Ukraine with air defense systems. 

"With every blow, with every casualty, with every explosion, Russia is showing the democratic world that we are still doing too little and too slowly. We need the maximum possible sanctions, the maximum legal reaction by throwing Russia out of wherever it still has the right to decide. And we need the maximum arms assistance. And especially air defense systems because today's strikes show that the Ukrainians know how to use them," the speaker posted on Facebook on Monday

Ukraine reported on Monday that a number of Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, had come under Russia's missile attack, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saying that energy infrastructure was targeted.

Local officials report that people have been killed and injured in the attacks.

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Germany has plans for brigade exercises in Lithuania – president

RUKLA, Jonava District, Lithuania, Oct 10, BNS - Germany is responsibly meeting its commitment to ensure the presence of brigade-sized troops in Lithuania, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says, adding that an exercise plan has been approved.

"The plan has definitely been approved. During the execution of this exercise, we can very well see where we have weak spots and coordination gaps that can be filled. Such exercises are not only an opportunity to bolster combat power, but to improve interoperability as well," the president told reporters in Rukla on Monday as he observed the Exercise Fast Griffin, the first exercise of the German brigade assigned to Lithuania.

"I can certainly assure the Lithuanian people that Germany, the leader of the forward presence battalion, is very clearly taking both political and military responsibility. As usual for the Germans, they are doing it in a very methodical and precise way, and I am convinced that Lithuania will also do everything in a methodical and precise way, so that all our obligations, as a host country, are implemented on time and we can have the security that is necessary to build and increase our prosperity," Nauseda said.

Last week, some 250 German troops and 80 pieces of military equipment arrived in Lithuania for the first joint exercise since June when the agreement on the assignment of a German brigade to Lithuania was reached.

The Lithuanian army said earlier the brigade's command element was permanently deployed in Lithuania in early September, and the brigade's other units are deployed in Germany and would be ready for immediate combat operations.

Earlier, Lithuanian officials said they would seek the German brigade's permanent deployment in Lithuania once the infrastructure is ready. 

German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht visited in Rukla last week and said the brigade would not be permanently deployed but would be moved to Lithuania within 10 days, in case of a crisis.

Germany is also leading the NATO multinational battalion deployed in Lithuania in 2017.

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Lithuanian president suggests borrowing up to 3 pct of GDP for defense

RUKLA, Jonava District, Lithuania, Oct 10, BNS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has proposed including into next year's state budget a possibility to of borrow up to 3 per cent of the country's GDP for national defense, saying that the currently planned funds may be insufficient.

In his words, the plan to spend the existing 2.5 percent of GDP on national defense next year is not in line with the declarations on the need to upgrade the Lithuanian army and the ambition to improve the country's infrastructure to host NATO allies.

"Budget spending on national defense remains at 2.5 percent. At the same time, we are making very nice declarations, repeating the need to increase the attractiveness of the country as hosting foreign combat power, and also to upgrade our army, and to up the general readiness of our troops. These are indeed very nice declarations, but let’s not forget that they have to be backed up by concrete financial resources," Nauseda told reporters in Rukla on Monday.

"That is why I think we need to have some flexibility in the budget, let's say the same 2.5 percent of GDP, but with the possibility to borrow up to 3 percent of GDP, which would be more in line with these ambitious goals", he said.

The president stressed that this option would save time in the decision-making process, if any need arises.

"Since the time factor is not in our favor, we have to make the best possible use of time. And for that reason, I think we really need to see what's happening in the region, what threats are emerging, what other NATO countries in the same region are doing. For example, Estonia has decided to increase its national defense funding to 2.9 percent of GDP, not to mention Poland where national defense funding is going up to more than 4 percent," Nauseda said.

Last week, the Lithuanian government proposed to allocate more than 1.77 billion euros, or 2.52 percent of the projected GDP, to national defense.

Next year's state budget bill also includes the possibility of additional borrowing for national defense in case any upward adjustments to the economic outlook, if the previously allocated funds fall short of the 2.52 percent of GDP threshold. In that case, the state would be allowed to borrow as much as necessary to reach this threshold.

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NATO jets in Baltics scrambled 4 times over Russian aircraft last week

VILNIUS, Oct 10, BNS – NATO's fighter jets policing Baltic airspace were scrambled four times last week to intercept Russian aircraft flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea in violation of flight rules, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said on Monday.

Most of the Russian aircraft did not use their onboard transponders and had no pre-filed flight plans, nor did they maintain radio communication with the Regional Traffic Control Center, it said.

The NATO Baltic air policing mission is carried out from air bases in Lithuania and Estonia.

 

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Poland joins regional cyber defense centre in Lithuania – ministry

VILNIUS, Oct 10, BNS - Poland will become a fifth country to join the Regional Cyber Defense Center (RCDC), which operates as a branch of the National Cyber Security Center, Lithuania's Ministry of National Defense said on Monday.

"Operating for the past 18 months, the Regional Cyber Defense Center continues to expand and grow. Poland's participation will only strengthen it further and allow for a better assessment of the cyber security situation in our region," Vice Minister of National Defense Margiris Abukevicius said in a statement.

The decision on Poland's accession was taken on Monday at a meeting of the RCDC's in Kaunas, attended by representatives of Lithuania, the United States, Ukraine and Georgia. Representatives of Poland attended the meeting as observers.

Poland's accession and the necessary documents is expected to be completed later this year, and the first Polish representatives will start working in Kaunas in the near future.

The RCDC was launched in July, 2021 and is the key platform for practical cooperation with the US in the area of cyber defense, the statement reads. The center analyses regional cyber threats, exchanges relevant information with partners, and holds exercises, training and analytical studies in the area of cyber security.

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Lithuania receives 138,200 doses of Omicron-adapted coronavirus vaccine

VILNIUS, Oct 10, BNS – Lithuania has received 138,200 doses of an Omicron-adapted coronavirus vaccine, the Health Ministry said on Monday.

The vaccine targeting the BA.4 and BA.5 coronavirus sub-variants will be used for the first or second booster shots, with producers expected to deliver more than half a million adapted vaccine doses in October, it said. 

A second booster dose of the vaccine will be available to people aged 18 and over, according to the ministry.

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

Just over a third of the population have been vaccinated with the first booster dose and 5,300 people have received their second booster shot.

 

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Lukashenko wants attention when accusing West of plotting attacks -Lithuania's Landsbergis

VILNIUS, Oct 10, BNS – Authoritarian Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko is crying out for attention with his accusations of the West allegedly preparing attacks on Belarus as his country's economy crumbles to pieces, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says.

"All these statements remind me of a cry for help. Judging from the information we have, the economy is in tatters, in ruins, because of the sanctions, because of the isolation. We have to bear in mind that this is a much weaker country than Russia, in every sense," Landsbergis told reporters at the Seimas on Monday. "Politically, Lukashenko has no legitimacy comparable to Russia's, and Russia's failing war seems to be dragging Belarus into the pit of global isolation."

Earlier in the day, the Belarusian state news agency BelTA quoted Lukashenko as accusing NATO and some European countries of planning attacks against Belarus.

Lukashenko addressed a conference on security issues and said Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine had allegedly begun training militants recruited from ranks of Belarusian radicals to carry out acts of sabotage, terrorist attacks, and organize a military mutiny in Belarus, adding that it's becoming an immediate threat.

"The attempt to shout about all sorts of action being prepared by neighboring countries is an attention-grabber, perhaps the only thing he (Lukashenko) hopes to do is to cause additional problems for the Ukrainians in order to maintain forces in the northern part of Ukraine, but the Ukrainians have been doing this for a long time and they see the risks in the same way we do," Landsbergis said, commenting on Lukashenko's statements.

He also confirmed there were no reports of possible provocations from Belarus, adding that the threat level remains unchanged. 

"The facts we have, both from public sources and from our services, do not allow us to see any action directed against Lithuania and in any way changing our situation. In fact, on the contrary, the equipment is being taken out of Belarus, it seems that it will be used against Ukraine, probably on the front line, it's just that Russia is lacking its own weapons and is pooling everything it can, taking them from Belarus as well," the Lithuanian foreign minister said.

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I want to believe Russia's new attacks will "wake up the napping West" – Landsbergis

VILNIUS, Oct 10, BNS - Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis regrets that the West have failed to provide more air defense elements to Ukraine, and hopes Russia's new attacks will "wake up the napping West".

"I very much want to believe that these attacks will wake up the napping West again. I regret myself and I hope that regret is shared by some of our partners who have been arguing for months about what arms can be transferred and what arms cannot be transferred," Landsbergis told reporters at the Seimas on Monday.

"If those weapons had been transferred, if more air defense elements had been transferred to Ukraine, we would obviously have fewer dead people," Lithuania's top diplomat said.

Ukraine reported on Monday that a number of Ukrainian cities, including the capital Kyiv, had come under Russia's missile attack, with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky saying that energy infrastructure was targeted.

Ate least 10 people have reportedly been killed and dozens have been injured during the missile attacks.

Landsbergis says the attacks specifically targeting civilian infrastructure "reveal to some, and confirm to others, the brutal nature of the Putin regime, its total disregard for human life and for any of the civilization norms we accept".

By Milena Andrukaitytė

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Lithuanian, Germany agreed on brigade deployment – Landsbergis

VILNIUS, Oct 10, BNS - Lithuania and Germany agreed this summer on the deployment of a German brigade in Lithuania, and not on the brigade's readiness to arrive in Lithuania swiftly, if needed, Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis says.

His comment followed the statement of German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht, who visited Lithuania's Rukla last week, saying that the brigade assigned to Lithuania would be sent to the Baltic country within ten days, if needed.

Lithuanian officials said earlier they expected the brigade to be permanently deployed in Lithuania.

"Today, the situation is de facto as it is, and the Germans have confirmed that yes, we will come, in case of danger. We know that, but this is not the agreement we had," Lithuania's top diplomat said reporters at the Seimas. "The agreement signed by President Nauseda and Chancellor Scholz is on a brigade in Lithuania ready to fight."

In his words, the Lithuanian government has already agreed with the Ministry of National Defense on an infrastructure plan to host the brigade.

"It's clear from these dates when Lithuania will be ready to host the brigade. And perhaps it's not strange to expect for both the minister and Lithuania in general to voice a very clear invitation to the Germans to indicate whether the dates that Lithuania is providing are acceptable and in line with their planning schedule. We haven't heard that", Landsbergis said.

What both leaders agreed

Signed by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz in June, the joint communique states that "in addition to the current and reinforced enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group already in place, Germany is ready to lead a robust and combat-ready brigade in Lithuania dedicated to deter and defend against Russian aggression".

Initially, led by a permanently deployed Brigade Forward Command Element in Lithuania, this brigade will consist of German combat forces specifically designated for this purpose, potentially augmented by possible multinational contributions, "to form a powerful and exclusively dedicated combat formation ready to be rapidly de- and employed.", the documents reads.

These forces will be integrated into a regionally focused, intensive and comprehensive exercise program including rotating forces and Lithuanian Home Defense Forces in order to improve and ensure interoperability, cohesion, combat effectiveness and the ability for rapid reinforcement, the joint communique states.

The aforementioned forward presence command element was deployed in Lithuanain in September.

More information from Anusauskas

Last Saturday, Defense Minister Lambrecht stated that "we will ensure that the brigade can be moved to Lithuania in a short period of time, within 10 days".

Joining her at the press conference, Lithuanian National Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said such a time frame was sufficient to react to the build-up of military forces at the country's borders, which Ukraine's experience showed.

Landsbergis hopes Anusauskas has more information about the German brigade's possible permanent deployment in Lithuania.

"But it's strange why he doesn't say so then", the foreign minister said. "So far, there's been no need for Lithuania to talk about hosting brigades, adapting infrastructure and so on, so when one states such facts, it's necessary to be very, very precise about what we are talking about," the foreign minister said.

By Saulius Jakučionis

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., +370 5 205 85 10, Vilnius newsroom


Lithuanian parlt postpones 3rd electricity market liberalization until January, 2026

VILNUS, Oct 10, BNS – The Lithuanian parliament on Monday postponed the third stage of electricity market liberalization for three years until January, 2026. 

The public electricity supply to households in this phase will be cut off on January 1, 2026, and they will be expected to pick an independent electricity supplier over the next three years. During this time, the government hopes that sufficient solar and wind farms will be installed in Lithuania, making electricity much cheaper. 

On Monday, 111 Seimas members voted in favor of the proposed amendments to the Law on Electricity, while one voted against and one abstained.

Vice Minister of Energy Inga Ziliene said earlier there were some 814,000 households in the third liberalization stage, and about half of them had not yet chosen an independent supplier (431,000 on October 10).

Third-stage consumers using up to 1m000 kWh of electricity per year were supposed to choose an independent supplier by December 18, and the liberalization process was expected to be completed by January, 2023.

By Sniegė Balčiūnaitė

Editor: Roma Pakėnienė

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Upcoming events in Lithuania for Tuesday, October 11, 2022

VILNIUS, Oct 11, BNS – The following events are scheduled in Lithuania for Tuesday, October 11, 2022:

PRIME MINISTER Ingrida Simonyte to open the Franco-Lithuanian Business Forum in Paris at 10 a.m. (Lithuanian time); to meet with her French counterpart Elisabeth Borne at 1 p.m.; to have lunch with French political scientists, journalists and intellectuals at 3 p.m.

 

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Vilnius newsroom

Oct 17 2022

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