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US support is particularly critical for strengthening our capabilities, and the whole of NATO at the same time, Minister R.Karoblis says


“The United States of America is the key strategic ally to Lithuania, its support is vital for both, strengthening Lithuania’s national defence capabilities and providing actual deterrence in the eastern flank of the Alliance,” Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis said at the meeting with members of US Senate visiting Lithuania.


Senators of the United States of America John McCain (Republican), Lyndsey Graham (Republican), and Amy Klobuchar (Democrat) met with Minister R.Karoblis on December 29 to discuss enhancement and development of Lithuania’s defence capabilities, Lithuanian-US defence cooperation, security situation in the eastern flank of NATO, and the critical value of the presence of NATO allies’ forces in the region.


Minister of National Defence R.Karoblis thanked the US Senators for the consistent and long-standing support rendered by deploying rotational troops for joint training in Lithuania and emphasised the importance of such presence in the Baltic states in terms of enhancing regional security.


Minister R. Karoblis informed the US Senators that security and defence were among the biggest challenges and key priorities of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania. “Lithuania will begin appropriating 2 percent of GDP as soon as 2018, and while we upgrade the Lithuanian Armed Forces, we are also enhancing NATO capabilities,” minister of National Defence said.


According to Minister R.Karoblis, Lithuania does not only put in great effort into enhancing national defence but also at the same time contributes to international security. ”We will keep helping Ukraine with all our might because its success plays a huge role in the security of the whole Europe,” the Minister said.


Lithuanian and US officials also addressed security trends in the region, cyber defence, propaganda and minorities.


After the meeting the US Senators proceeded to visit the Parliament, viewed the memorial for Freedom Fighter sand January 13 victims which includes fragments of defences and barricades used to protect the Parliament building in 1991.


Senator J. McCain thanked Lithuanian soldiers serving in international operations and American soldiers for training in land force-level international exercises in Lithuania. The Senators and Chief of the Joint Staff Major General Vitalijus Vaikšnoras presented to the US soldiers Lithuanian Armed Forces Medals for Mutual Support.


During the visit in Lithuania on December 29-30 the US Senators met with the President of the Republic of Lithuania HE Dalia Grybauskaitė, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis, Speaker of the Parliament Viktoras Pranckietis, and Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius, and visited the NATO Force Integration Unit (NFIU) Vilnius.


The US Senators were conducting the visit to familiarise with the security situation in the region, to strengthen strategic relations and to reaffirm US commitments to its allies. The stop in Lithuania was preceded by visits to Estonia and Latvia, and will be followed by visits to Ukraine, Georgia and Montenegro.


Republican Sen. John McCain is the Chairman of the US Senate Committee on Armed Services, Republican Sen. L.Graham is a member of the US Senate Committees on Armed Services, Appropriations, and Budget and the Judiciary Committee, and Democrat Sen. Amy Klobuchar is a member of the US Senate Judiciary Committee, Committees on Commerce, Science and Transportation, and Agriculture, and the Economic Committee.


Credits: Ieva Budzeikaitė (LITHAF) and Alfredas Pliadis (MoD)

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