US Army Europe commander to come to Lithuania

Ben Hodges
DELFI / Domantas Pipas

Hodges on Thursday is scheduled to visit NATO’s multinational battalion stationed in Rukla, in central Lithuania. On Friday, he will go to Pabradė, a training area close to Vilnius where a company of American troops is deployed, and will meet with President Dalia Grybauskaitė, as well as the country’s defense minister and its chief of defense, in the capital, Defense Ministry officials told BNS.

The US general’s visit to Lithuania comes ahead of Zapad 2017 (West), a large-scale military exercise to be held jointly by Russia and Belarus in mid-September.

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Topics to be discussed during the visit include the region’s security situation, US support for security enhancement, further plans for the implementation of NATO’s deterrence measures in the region, and the deployment and military training of the Alliance’s forward presence forces in Lithuania, according to the Defense Ministry.

In response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, NATO this year deployed some 1,000 troops to the three Baltic countries and Poland each. The US this week beefed up NATO’s Baltic air policing mission by deploying seven fighter jets, instead of the usual four, at the Šiauliai military airbase in northern Lithuania.

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