Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has called on NATO to send more troops to eastern Europe including to his own country.
Nausėda dicsussed the issue on Friday with Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, who was visiting the Lithuanian capital Vilnius.
The pair also discussed military assistance to Ukraine, Ukraine's status as an EU candidate country, and sanctions against Russia and Belarus, according to a statement from the President’s office.
Germany leads NATO’s battle group in Lithuania. At least 28,000 allied troops were stationed there as of March 22, according to the latest figures from NATO.
Nausėda said he wants to see an upgrade of air policing to air and missile defense, and a switch from forward presence to forward defense, according to the statement. He said:
With the outbreak of a large-scale military offensive in the Donbas region, rapid and effective delivery of weaponry to Ukraine could become a decisive factor in this war. We no longer have time to hesitate, we must act decisively and quickly.”
Nausėda also says he wants to strengthen NATO’s presence on the Suwałki Corridor, which sits on Lithuanian-Polish border and links Belarus to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad in the Baltics.
The West should also impose more sanctions on Russia and Belarus, Nausėd said.
Some background: Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February has prompted NATO to deploy more troops to the Eastern Flank.
As of March 21, 40,000 allied troops were stationed in the Baltics as well as Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria, according to NATO’s most recent information.
Battle groups are military forces from different NATO countries that train and are stationed together so that, if a conflict arises, they are prepared as a united NATO force.
Since the beginning of Russia's invasion, NATO has agreed to establish four more battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. Those forces add to the battle groups that were established by NATO in 2017 in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, meaning NATO now has forces deployed all along its Eastern European flank.