The move received a green light from the US Congress House of Representatives on Friday and was welcomed by Lithuania’s defence and foreign ministers on Monday.
“We appreciate the commitment of our strategic ally, the United States of America, to continue boosting security of the Baltic states and other countries in Eastern Europe. It is one of the most important steps in the implementation of the decisions on collective defence instruments made at the NATO summit in Wales in September,” Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said.
“I am happy that the voting took place almost at the same time as the Lithuanian Seimas adopted the budget of Lithuania and approved an increase of the defence budget by a third. This is a significant step for Lithuania. The will to boost defence spending testifies our responsible stance on national defence and firm implementation of commitments, solidarity with the strategic partner that supports us – the US and the rest of the Alliance,” Defence Minister Juozas Olekas said.
The ministers expressed hope that the US Senate will also support the draft after a vote at the US House of Representatives.
Last Friday, the House of Representatives approved the 2015 defence budget draft, which envisages additional 1 billion US dollars for the European security initiative. The initiative will finance participation of US troops in exercises and trainings, presence of rotational troops in the Baltic states and Eastern Europe, prepositioning of equipment and machinery necessary for defence. Some of the money of the initiative will also go towards development of military infrastructure in NATO member-states, for instance, infrastructure improvement at the Lithuanian Air Force Aviation Base in Šiauliai.