On Wednesday a round-table discussion on the Lithuanian-German defence cooperation took place in Vilnius. Retired Generals of the Bundeswehr, experts and specialists of the Ministry of National Defence discussed changes in Germany’s security and defence policy, links with Lithuania and geopolitical challenges. The discussion focussed extensively on the deepening Lithuanian-German cooperation in a practical sense, primarily the decision to station a German brigade in Lithuania.
Vice Minister of National Defence Žilvinas Tomkus said at the discussion that our cooperation with Germany was one of the practical examples of Lithuania’s National Defence growing stronger through adaptation. “The decision to station a combat-ready Brigade in Lithuania announced by Minister of Defence of Germany Boris Pistorius is not only about quality, quantity and Germany but also about us, our national capacity and needs,” said Vice Minister opening the round-table discussion. According to him, the decision to deploy a German brigade to Lithuania is not only important for the defence community but also has implications for the defence industry and the general public.
Former NATO Assistant Secretary General for Defence Policy and Planning, Senior Associate Fellow in the Security, Defense, and Armaments Program of the German Council on Foreign Relations Lt Gen Heinrich Brauss assured that NATO held the region in focus and told he was optimistic about the deterrence and defence situation in the eastern flank of NATO.
When speaking about Ukraine, H. Brauss admitted that the war in Ukraine changed Germany’s assessment and understanding of the situation.
“There has been a fundamental shift in understanding both in the political community and the general public. The last 20 years were marked by crises far away, the German Armed Forces was completely different. Everything has to be rebuilt from the basics. Also, the perception of the German public of the German military and our place in NATO has to be changed. It takes time and requires political leadership,” said retired Lt Gen H. Brauss.
He continued to emphasize the need for consistent consultations of experts, political leaders and defence industry and called the stationing of a German brigade in Lithuania a strong collaboration opportunity for both nations.
Another participant of the discussion representative of the Institute for Security Policy Kiel University retired Brigadier General Reiner Meyer zum Felde acknowledged that it took Germany a while to see Russia’s true designs, however, the war in Ukraine “convinced even the last doubters standing among the German politicians and media.”
He then pointed out training and exercises as the key element in stationing the German brigade in Lithuania and in the long-term generally. “It has to take place frequently, be of scale and involve not just multiple NATO Allies but also a major part of the society and business. Only that will show us our strengths and weaknesses.”
Among other participants of the debate were representatives of the Federal Ministry of Defence Captain (Navy) Torben Jurgensen and Lt Col Thomas Peiker, expers and political figures from Lithuania.
The event was co-organised with the Liaison Office of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Foundation Lithuania
Photo credits: Alfredas Pliadis/MoD