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NATO conducts war games in 'nervous' EU state as Putin's invasion of Ukraine enters day 48

Although the NATO forces secured a victory during the exercise, Lithuania’s security situation is looking increasingly precarious, Gabrielius Landsbergis, Lithuania’s foreign minister explains.

He said: “Until last November, we had the Russian army quite far away from NATO’s borders.

“Now the military activity is very close. To add to that, Lithuania lies between the territory of Belarus and the territory of Kaliningrad.

“Which puts us in a strategic situation that is, let’s say, interesting.”

Since 2016, “enhanced forward presence” battlegroups have been stationed in four of the most eastern NATO member states – Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

However, the war in Ukraine has led the alliance to increase its presence in the region further with multinational battalions to be sent to Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia.

Despite the number of NATO troops in Lithuania increasing from 1,200 to 1,600, in practice they act as a reminder to Kremlin hardliners that any attempt to invade the Baltic state would trigger a conflict with NATO as Vilnius could trigger the article 5 clause around collective self defence.

Therefore, the scenario being played out “Rising Griffin” was a “David V Goliath” one as the NATO military presence let alone the Lithuanian military would be overrun fairly quickly so their role would be to slow Moscow’s forces down. 

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Mr Landsbergis went on to argue that the “founding act”, an agreement signed by NATO and Russia in 1997 limiting the number of troops the alliance can send to the Baltics, was now “null and void” after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

He said: “We consider it null and void after what Russia has done. The new reality we have to accept is that the treaties that built the old security environment with Russia are no more.

“We have to look at this with new eyes. There has to be a permanent military presence with everything needed to defend the skies, defend the seas and defend the land of the Baltic states.”



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