MPs unanimously ratify pact on status of US troops in Lithuania

USA troops marching in the Cathedral Sq in Vilnius during the Army day
DELFI / Domantas Pipas

Adoption of the relevant law was voted by 111 parliamentarians. The document was ratified on the fast track, as proposed by President Dalia Grybauskaitė.

“Undoubtedly, the United States is the main guarantor of our security and Lithuania’s strategic defense and security partner,” Deputy Defence Minister Vytautas Umbrasas told the parliament.

“After Russia’s aggression in Ukraine in 2014, the United States was the first to send to Lithuania additional air-policing jet fighters and companies for continuous presence, thus confirming that the US cares about Lithuania’s security too,” he said.

The deal was signed by Lithuanian Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis and Anne Hall, the US ambassador to Lithuania, on Jan. 17 and will take effect after it is ratified by the Seimas.

The agreement gives the US jurisdiction over crimes committed by its military personnel, but allows Lithuania as the host nation to take over jurisdiction in cases of particular importance to it. The document also gives the US the right to use certain military facilities, although these facilities remain in the ownership of Lithuania.

Latvia and Estonia also signed similar agreements with the US this year.

Such bilateral agreements on defense cooperation, which define the status of US troops and their families, are signed at the US initiative.

A company-sized US unit has been stationed in Lithuania since in 2014 and a battalion from the US brigade that is being deployed to Poland is expected to frequently come to Lithuania for training.

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