Lithuania wants more US troops to bolster Baltic security

by Andrius Sytas and Phil Stewart

VILNIUS (Reuters) – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda on Saturday called for U.S. troop reinforcements for Baltic security as Russian troops massed near Ukraine’s borders raise concerns in the region, raising fears of an invasion by Ukraine by Russia.

“Russia’s military build-up on NATO’s eastern border is changing the security picture,” Gitanas Nauseda was quoted in a statement after a meeting in Vilnius with the US defense secretary. Lloyd Austin.

“It is extremely important to strengthen regional security (of the Baltic states: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) with additional American troops and to accelerate military supply cooperation,” he added.

Some 500 soldiers have been deployed by the United States in rotation groups since 2019 in Lithuania and Gitanas Nauseda wants this deployment to become permanent, saying he fears that Europe is “on the brink of war”.

US President Joe Biden said on Friday he was convinced that his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin had made the decision to invade Ukraine and that he was spreading false information to use it as a pretext for an attack likely to take place in Ukraine. here a few days.

Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte, for her part, believed that Russian troops deployed in Belarus could be stationed there for a long time.

“We can say with great certainty that we will not see (Russian) troops withdraw quickly, if at all,” she told reporters.

According to Ingrida Simonyte, if this scenario is confirmed, the narrow strip of land between Belarus and the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad known as the Suwalki corridor, the only land route between the Baltic countries and the European Union, would then under intense pressure.

“It would be a major change in the security situation. We will have to adapt accordingly so that the Suwalki corridor and the Baltic states are defended,” she said.

(Report Andrius Sytas and Phil Stewart; French version Claude Chendjou)

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