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Lithuania’s president demands stronger NATO presence in Baltic

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has renewed his calls for a stronger NATO presence on the defence alliance's eastern flank as NATO leaders gather in Madrid for a key summit to discuss its strategy going forward.

Vilnius, 29 June 2022 (dpa/MIA) – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda has renewed his calls for a stronger NATO presence on the defence alliance’s eastern flank as NATO leaders gather in Madrid for a key summit to discuss its strategy going forward.

In light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, a transition from deterrence to forward defence must be made at the NATO summit, Nausėda told dpa in an interview in Vilnius.

Nausėda said NATO’s tripwire logic for the defence of the Baltic was “no longer viable” and argued more ground troops were needed in the Baltic states and elsewhere along NATO’s eastern flank. He added that aerial defence rather than aerial surveillance was also now necessary.

In concrete terms, Nausėda said he expected the summit to approve the upgrade of existing multinational NATO battlegroups to brigade level in member states on the eastern flank.

Germany has already announced its intention to lead the NATO combat brigade in Lithuania. “This shows that Germany’s commitment to deploy more troops here in Lithuania is very strong and determined,” Nausėda stressed, adding: “We appreciate it very much.”

A Bundeswehr-led NATO battalion currently comprising around 1,600 soldiers has been stationed in Lithuania since 2017. A brigade usually consists of between 3,000 and 5,000 troops.

Leaders of the 30 NATO member states are meeting in Madrid on Wednesday and Thursday to agree on a new strategic concept for Europe in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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