President Gitanas Nausėda and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited General Silvestras Žukauskas’s training ground on 6 June. According to the Head of State, the German Chancellor’s promise to create a strong brigade in the Baltic States has turned Lithuania’s dream of strengthening the defence of NATO’s eastern flank into reality, Vilmantas Venckūnas reported in TV3.lt.
“Today was a historic visit of Olaf Scholz to Lithuania. I can truly say that this visit is particularly important because it comes on the eve of an extremely important event for us – the NATO Summit in Madrid at the end of June.
The German Chancellor has brought good news for Lithuania: Germany is going to take the lead and exercise its responsibilities as the lead nation of the NATO Forward Presence. In other words, to strengthen its military presence here in Lithuania, and it is going to strengthen it to the level of a brigade,” Nausėda said after his visit to General Silvestras Žukauskas Training Area.
“This is one of the dreams that we have been thinking about while waiting for the NATO Summit. Finally, it is practically becoming a reality, a reality today. Yes, it will not happen overnight. It will be a gradual process. The most important thing is that we are ready for this process in the sense that as a preparatory country, we will take care of all the necessary infrastructure that will be needed for the deployment of such a combat unit,” the head of state added.
Nausėda did not want to specify when the brigade could be deployed in Lithuania.
“But it will not last for years. So I think we can expect it in the next year and a half,” the head of state assured.
Earlier, Lithuania hoped that NATO leaders would decide in Madrid at the end of June to expand the multinational battalions deployed in the Baltics and Poland to brigades. German troops command the NATO battalion in Lithuania.
The National Defence Council (NDC) last week identified the goal of deploying a brigade-size unit in the country as one of the country’s top priorities for the upcoming Alliance summit.
This is Scholz’s first visit to Lithuania. He has been German Chancellor since December last year.