US troops should always be in Lithuania – McCain

John McCain
AFP/Scanpix

“I think the question on numbers is related to requirements and training that is going on at the time and various operations that we conduct jointly. But I think the permanency is important, that there will always be some American troops here,” the senator told Vilnius journalists after meeting with President Dalia Grybauskaitė.

In his words, “I believe it is necessary to make sure that our friends here understand United States is always with them.”

Three US senators are visiting Lithuania on Thursday through Friday to discuss security issues with the country’s top officials.

Three US senators – Republicans McCain and Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar – are visiting Lithuania on Thursday through Friday to discuss security issues with the country’s top officials.

Graham applauded the Lithuanian move to raise defense spending, expressing hope that other NATO nations would follow suit. He also said that new sanctions should be taken against Russia’s efforts to interfere with other countries’ matters by way of cyber attacks , at the same time acknowledging that this could lead to new difficulties, if the new sanctions are taken in connection to, for instance, the energy sector.

“I’m trying to say to the Baltic states that there’s going to be a price to be paid but in the long run (…) if we don’t stop this it will be a threat to democracy itself,” said Graham.

He also noted that the presence of US troops in Lithuania was aimed at demonstrating the values the countries share.

“So I hope President Trump will realize that (Russian President Vladimir) Putin is not a friend of democracy,” Graham concluded.

Lithuanian diplomats say that the US senators’ visit can be regarded as an attempt to reaffirm America’s commitments to the Baltic countries following the election of Donald Trump as US president.

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