Cooperation with Latvia and Estonia is one of the main priorities of Lithuania’s international cooperation. The Baltic co-operation formats and working group meetings ensure close co-operation between the Baltic States in order to maintain long-term NATO and Allied decisions on deterrence in the region and to represent the security interests of the Baltic States in both NATO and EU formats.
The Baltic States are most active in co-operation in the fields of NATO air policing, regional airspace surveillance, and development of regional marine awareness capabilities, training and education of officers, joint exercises. The aim is to ensure the greatest possible interaction between the Baltic forces and their interaction with the Allied forces. Tripartite and bilateral projects have been running for many years – the Baltic Naval Squadron (BALTRON), the Baltic Defence College (BALDEFCOL), the development of a regional maritime situational awareness capability (MSA), and coordinated actions to strengthen regional air defence.
On 29 January 2013, a new trilateral Memorandum of Understanding between Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia was signed, which establishes the structures for defence co-operation between the Baltic States. Meetings of the Baltic Defence Ministers and Chiefs of Defence and Chiefs of Defence Staff take place twice a year. Directors of defence policy, commanders of individual forces and experts of various levels also meet on a regular basis. In 2022, Estonia will hold the presidency of the Baltic States, in 2023, it will be held by Latvia, and in 2024 – by Lithuania.
The Baltic Defence College (BALTDEFCOL) has continually sought to be at the forefront of professional military education to ensure its graduates are well prepared to meet the challenges they will face throughout their career in war and peace.
Within a year of regaining their independence, the Defence Ministers of the three Baltic States agreed to cooperate in officer education. This cooperation was formalised in 1998 with the signing of an agreement establishing the Baltic Defence College in Tartu, Estonia – with English as its working language.
The Baltic Defence College serves as a centre of strategic and operational research and provides professional military education to intermediate and senior - level officers and government officials from the founding states, other member states of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries, as well as other European countries.
Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine established a joint military unit, LITPOLUKRBRIG, upon the signature of an establishment agreement by the three countries’ Defence Ministers on 19 September 2014 in Warsaw. The Brigade comprises of an international staff, three battalions, and specialised units. Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine each assign an infantry battalion, and personnel for special-purpose units and the LITPOLUKRBRIG staff. The Lithuanian contribution to the LITPOLUKRBRIG is formed from the personnel of the Grand Duchess Birutė Uhlan Battalion.
The LITPOLUKRBRIG personnel participate in joint training and exercises, the Brigade or its elements will be deployed to international operations mandated by the United Nations Security Council, while decision regarding deployment of the LITPOLUKRBRIG to international operations will be made by general consent of all the establishing countries. The LITPOLUKRBRIG battalions are held on standby in their home countries, and deploy in composition of LITPOLUKRBRIG in case a decision is made to activate the Brigade or any of its elements. The Brigade headquarters and staff are located in Lublin, Poland.
The Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) is a United Kingdom-led high-readiness and rapid deployment force created in 2014.
With the accession of Iceland in April 2021, JEF consists of 10 countries – the United Kingdom, Estonia, Denmark, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Finland and Sweden.
The JEF is a brigade-sized, high-readiness combat unit dedicated to responding to unexpected crises in Europe and beyond: from humanitarian aid to deterrence to combat operations. The JEF is primarily intended for rapid response operations under the flag of the European Union, NATO or the United Nations. Its units could also be used for NATO Article 5 operations.
Lithuania allocates a company-sized unit to these forces, which is part of the Danish Army’s battle group. Since the beginning of 2016, a Lithuanian officer has been serving at the JEF Operational Headquarters in Northwood, United Kingdom.
The Northern Group is a UK-led format established in 2012. It involves 12 countries – 3 Baltic countries, 5 Nordic countries, Poland, the Netherlands and Germany. The group acts as a consultative forum on European security issues, NATO-EU relations, and other topics relevant to the region, such as military mobility, the development of transformation technologies and climate change. Meetings are held in the formats of the Ministers of Defence and the Directors of Defence Policy twice a year.
The Nordic-Baltic Eight (NB8) is an informal format for cooperation between the five Nordic and three Baltic states. It has a regular format for co-operation with the Nordic countries: NB8 holds annual meetings of defence ministers, military commanders, defence policy directors and experts to discuss security issues in the Baltic Sea region, practical multilateral military projects, support to Ukraine and Georgia, and other issues.
NORDEFCO (Nordic Defence Cooperation) is a format for practical Nordic military cooperation, established in 2009. NORDEFCO is an important platform for security policy dialogue and military cooperation in the region. Lithuania, together with other Baltic countries, seeks deeper infiltration into this format. These include cooperation on a need-to-know basis in the areas of capability and armaments development, human resources and training, exercises and operations.