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President of the United States Donald Trump expressed full support to the security of the Baltic states

Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis attended the Baltic-US summit on April 3 alongside President of the Republic of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaitė and Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius. At the event, President of the United States of America Donald Trump expressed full support in ensuring the security of the Baltic states and called them staunch allies that not only invest into their own security but also contribute to security worldwide.

A joint declaration of the US and the Baltic Presidents with a focus on defence was signed at the summit. “The United States of America and Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania share a continued commitment to European security, and pledge to deepen our collaboration to confront forces threatening our common values, security interests, and shared vision. NATO, under the strong leadership of the United States, is the fundamental bedrock of transatlantic ties and the cornerstone of collective security. Together, we will continue to improve NATO’s ability to provide strong deterrence and defense. The United States of America and Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania reaffirm their ironclad commitment to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty,” the document says. The declaration also provides for members of the Alliance, separately and in concert, through continuous and effective efforts of their own and means of mutual support, sustaining and developing individual and collective capabilities to counter an armed attack. The Baltic states made a public commitment to allot the necessary funds for defence and to enhance regional infrastructure for hosting additional rotational US and NATO forces. The United States of America will continue periodic deployment of forces to the Baltic states to strengthen deterrence and defence. The United States is determined to help Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to improve their military readiness and capabilities through sustained security assistance.

The summit was also attended by US Secretary of Defence James Mattis with whom Minister R. Karoblis has met quite a few times recently and maintains close relations through different formats.

Later R. Karoblis attended the US-Baltic Business Forum where Presidents of the three Baltic nations and US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross delivered remarks.

The business forum seeks tighten trade bonds between the Baltic states and the US and to put forward innovative solutions of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia defence capability development and other areas.

Minister also met with leadership of the Centre for a New American Security, an influential think-tank. The meeting addressed the trends of the current US Administrations policies, work ahead in strengthening the strategic Lithuanian-US defence partnership, and desired results of the upcoming NATO Summit.

Minister R. Karoblis and Vice Minister Giedrimas Jeglinskas of National Defence attended a dinner held by the think-tank on the occasion of the US-Baltic summit. The event was attended by US National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster and many more security and defence officials and experts.

Minister R. Karoblis is also planned to visit Oshkosh Defence enterprise to view L-ATV armoured personnel carriers it produces. The Defence Materiel Council of the Ministry of National Defence assessed the L-ATVs as the best quality/price ration last fall and agreed to open negotiations on procuring the equipment.

The visit agenda also includes Defence Minister’s meetings with Lieutenant Governor of the State of Illinois Evelyn Sanguinetti and Lithuanian American community.

The US is Lithuania’s strategic partner and key ally for the Baltic security. The US takes as an active part in the assurance measures in the Baltics by increasing regional security and stability. The United States actively contributes manpower, equipment and funds to the defence of our region. Under the European Deterrence Initiative, financial support for strengthening defence capabilities and improving military infrastructure of European countries, including Lithuania, is consistently increased by one third every year. The US is also one of Lithuania’s partners in weaponry procurement. New and modern American military technology equipment – air defence missiles, Bushmaster turrets for combat vehicles, Javelin anti-tank systems, etc. – Lithuania will acquire over the next 3-4 years from the US will significantly boost national defence capabilities.

The United States deployed rotational land force companies in the Baltic states and Eastern Europe immediately after the Russian aggression in Ukraine in 2014. As of 2017, the US is contributing a battalion-sized battle group in Poland to the NATO enhanced Forward Presence in the Baltic states and Poland. The US also supports enhancement of regional air defence capabilities, takes up the rope of leadership in arrangement of various military exercise in the Baltic states, assigns capabilities to the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltics.

Photo credit: Kęstutis Vaškelevičius

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