The recent tension between Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas and the chairman of the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence, Laurynas Kasčiūnas, should have subsided somewhat. Still, Kasčiūnas has made it quite clear that the Seimas Committee will not be just a decoration of the Ministry of National Defence, Eglė Samoškaitė writing at tv3.lt news portal.
On October 12 , Minister Anušauskas visited the Committee on National Security and Defence, where he spent about an hour discussing with parliamentarians the agreements with Germany and whether a full German brigade with ammunition would be deployed in Lithuania. “We spent half of the meeting discussing the grammar of German,” sighed Dainius Gaižauskas, a Green MEP.
Currently, only the forward command element is deployed in Lithuania, and the brigade itself would be redeployed from Germany in ten days in case of a threat. Germany itself has not fully confirmed that the brigade will indeed be deployed in our country once the necessary infrastructure is in place.
Anušauskas was not amusing
After the committee meeting, Kasčiūnas explained that, at the moment, all politicians have the same perception of the deployment of the German brigade and hinted that the Committee would not be just a decoration of the ministry. He said that the Committee also obliges the ministry to link the infrastructure implementation plan to the plan for the deployment of the German brigade in Lithuania. It is not an everyday occurrence for a committee to commit a ministry to do something.
“A good and constructive conversation. And we come away with the message that the primary interest of the brigade here in Lithuania is the interest of all the branches of government and all the political forces. We will achieve all this by doing our homework: we have to implement the whole infrastructure plan and welcome the Germans on good terms. We plan to complete this by July 2025, which is why the Committee on National Security and Defence unanimously adopted a decision obliging, urging, the Ministry of Defence to link that infrastructure implementation plan to the plan for the deployment of the German brigade. Our steps to prepare the infrastructure should be in line with Germany’s decisions on the gradual deployment of the brigade or parts of it in Lithuania,” said Kasčiūnas.
“It should be understood that the Committee will not be a decoration of the Ministry of National Defence. The Committee will always be the force that will have ideas and will propose them. For example, the idea of the principle of universal defence”, the conservative stressed.
At the time, Anušauskas was not so cheerful and talkative after the committee meeting. He started his speech by saying that Germany very much appreciates Lithuania’s efforts and work.
“They also appreciate that they are implementing the results of the Madrid Summit one by one and even doing more. I think this is also an important message, and they are not backing down from any of their commitments. They are fulfilling them. For our part, we are also coordinating with Germany, with the joint working group, but we would like to do things that the Parliament will also contribute to. I just point out that in a week’s time, the Parliament will be presented with projects that are important for the construction of infrastructure,” the Minister explained.
However, the fact that the hatchet is not fully buried is evidenced by the different vocabulary of the Minister and the Committee Chairman. For example, Kasčiūnas pointed out that the Committee had suggested that the ministry should adopt the necessary legislation for the creation of infrastructure earlier: “Well, you know, this is more a question for the Ministry of Defence, we called for it to be done earlier, but the end of October is also a good deadline, we will turn it around in a couple of weeks”.
However, Anušauskas himself refused to answer questions about the difference between the chairman of the Committee and himself regarding the German brigade in Lithuania: “Let the experts judge. Listen, the experts will judge. I’m not going to judge anyone who has said anything,” Anušauskas got upset at the question and hurriedly said goodbye a short time later.
Instead of a committee meeting, a meeting with followers
The Minister of National Defence also did not promise that he would visit the Committee on National Security and Defence frequently in the future, as he has too many business trips abroad. He has been reproached for this, as in the past, there was a case where the Minister did not attend a committee meeting because he had a live stream on social media for his followers.
“The point is that a man who was invited to the Committee 92 times managed to turn up an estimated 12-13 times. And that’s only in parts. This says a lot about his attitude,” said Green MEP and member of the Committee on National Security and Defence D. Gaižauskas after the committee meeting.
“When it came to NATO cooperation, we have recorded that he did his life with the electorate from his office. Unfortunately, this is the attitude,” the Green MEP added, saying that Anušauskas was a weak minister.
D. Gaižauskas expressed the hope that Minister Anušauskas had finally understood that one way or another, everyone should make sure that the German brigade with all its ammunition was physically present in Lithuania and not arrive in 10 days if there was a threat. At the same time, however, he considered that the Minister’s view of the threats seemed to be different from that of the Committee members.
L. Kasčiūnas stresses that the brigade’s presence in Lithuania is necessary because of the shift towards deterrence by denial, which means a greater deployment of troops and equipment to counter possible enemy aggression effectively. Another possible deterrence strategy is deterrence by punishment, which would imply certain actions in case of aggression. But deterrence by denial is more in Lithuania’s interest, as no one wants to see what happened in Buche or Borodianka in Ukraine in the event of aggression.
Skvernelis: Anušauskas was defended by Landsbergis Sr.
Saulius Skvernelis, a representative of the Democratic Union “In the Name of Lithuania” and former Prime Minister, said that at the meeting of the Committee, there was a real clarification of the meaning and even the individual words of the agreement on the deployment of the brigade concluded with Germany.
“We talked for almost an hour about who understands the text, the signed agreement. And if there is such a discussion here, if there is an urgent need to implement the agreement, if we start to analyse the texts as to who understands them, there will be huge problems. There should be a point in this story, and there should either be another agreement or communication from both governments that a decision has been taken and that we understand it in the same way: the brigade will be permanently deployed in Lithuania when the infrastructure is in place. And depending on the development of the infrastructure, this brigade should be deployed permanently in Lithuania gradually. Today, this interpretation and different understanding of the text is very worrying”, said Skvernelis.
The politician said Minister Anušauskas was saved when he was stood up in public by the patriarch of the conservative Vytautas Landsbergis. However, Skvernelis suggested consulting with Germany and issuing a joint statement because it did not appear to him now that it was really obvious that, by the end of 2025, once all the infrastructure was in place in Lithuania, there would be a brigade of German troops with all the ammunition.
Nausėda also criticised the Minister
The Minister of National Defence, Anušauskas, had earlier unnerved some of his colleagues, which led to public criticism that the Minister was not putting enough pressure on the ally Germany to confirm that the German brigade would indeed be in Lithuania when the infrastructure was ready. So far, only the brigade’s forward command element has been stationed in Lithuania, and the brigade itself will be in Lithuania within ten days in the event of an emergency, i.e. if Russia or Belarus is about to attack us.
A. Anušauskas has been criticised for this by L. Kasčiūnas, Chairman of the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence, Gabrielius Landsbergis, Minister of Foreign Affairs and leader of the Homeland Union of Lithuania-Lithuanian Christian Democrats, as well as by President Gitanas Nausėda.
The main point of criticism is that Minister Anušauskas, during a press conference with the German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht, which was attended not only by the Lithuanian but also by the German media, did not emphasise that the final goal should be the presence of the brigade in Lithuania, with a clear timetable and commitments from each side.
Although the NATO summit declaration stated that brigade-sized battle groups fully equipped for defence would be deployed in the eastern members of the Alliance, President Nausėda of Lithuania and Chancellor Scholz of Germany have signed a joint communiqué confirming Germany’s commitment to deploy the brigade in Lithuania, there is no clear consensus between the different institutions in Germany, according to those familiar with the situation.
This context means that Lithuania needs to be able to hammer home to Germans of all political stripes that a brigade ready to fight the enemy, with all its heavy and other weapons, must be deployed in Lithuania.