Bigger US military budget means more troops for Lithuania, Olekas says

Juozas Olekas
DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

“We are ready to receive additional troops and prepositioned military equipment, and we will make investment in this,” the minister told BNS on Tuesday.

“Speaking about specific numbers for Lithuania is premature, however, we will probably have more troops training here and more deployed equipment, as the defence secretary said, as far as I understand, the equipment will not be just for training but also combat equipment,” Olekas added.

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Nevertheless, in his words, the bulk of the US budget for Europe would go towards development of the existing American bases in Europe and deployment of equipment there.

The minister said the US presence in Europe was “crucial for security”, adding that the US thus demonstrated its actions to adapt to the changed security situation, which was altered by the Russian annexation of the Crimea peninsula and its support to separatists in Eastern Ukraine.

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“I believe that these steps are simply deterring the potential aggressor from aggression against NATO member-states,” said the Lithuanian defence minister.

On Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the US defence budget for Europe would amount to USD 3.4 billion (€3.1 billion) next year, up from USD 789 million in 2016.

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The US is currently stationing a rotational company of troops in each of the Baltic states, as well as the heavy military equipment for the soldiers.

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