Lithuanian and Canadian defence officials discuss Baltic security

Lithuanian Defence Policy Director Dr. Vaidotas Urbelis and the guest delegation discussed the NATO Readiness Action Plan approved in Wales regarding reassurance measures and their implementation in the Baltic region, Lithuania’s Ministry of National Defence said.

According to the representatives of Canada, the Government and the armed forces of their country were ready to increase Canada’s contribution to the security of the Baltic region significantly and were resolved to do it as soon as this year. Canada’s contribution could encompass not only deployment of additional aircraft for augmenting the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission but also presence of elements of the Canadian Army in our region and, namely, involvement in combined exercises in Lithuania.

The Canadian delegation were briefed on the schedule of military exercises in Lithuania for 2015 and on the conditions applied for allied forces invited to attend military training events in the territory of our country. The Canadian admiral was very positive about the progress Lithuania had achieved in ensuring proper service conditions for both, NATO air crews deployed on the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission carried out from the Šiauliai Air Base, and elements of ground forces training in exercises of diverse scopes in the territory of Lithuania. According to Couturier, Lithuania’s plan to increase defence budget to 2 percent of GDP by 2020 is an extra stimulus for convincing NATO allies to contribute forces. The Canadian officials maintained that a country which invested in its own defence could expect significantly more support from its allies that a country not tackling with issues of its security.

The work meeting featured discussion on the provision of assistance to Ukraine and its defence sector. Canada is completing a series of critical projects: English language courses are held for military personnel of Ukraine, military instructors and pilots are trained, protective equipment is bought and donated to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. Lithuania is an active Ukraine’s supporter too. The meeting representatives of both countries have agreed that it necessary to spare no effort so that Ukraine develops modern armed forces compliant with Western standards and an efficient Ministry of Defence. Both, Lithuania and Canada are interested in delivering assistance in this area. The Canadian delegation maintained that the welcome fact of the Lithuanian Embassy in Kiev functioning as a NATO Contact Point Embassy in Ukraine in 2015 provided an opportunity to necessarily use the advantages it offered.

The meeting also addressed formation of the trilateral Lithuanian, Polish and Ukrainian Brigade LITPOLUKRBRIG. According to Couturier, it was in Canada’s interest to contribute to the processes LITPOLUKRBRIG formation and personnel training, and the trilateral Brigade could serve as the nucleus of a transformed Ukrainian Armed Forces.

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