We are grateful to France for your contribution to a stronger security in the Baltic region, Minister of National Defence R. Karoblis says
“We are grateful to France for the contribution to a stronger security in the Baltic region – that is a clear deterrent signal of Alliance unity and resolve to defend to any potential aggressor,” Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis says. On September 29 R. Karoblis, Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lt Gen Valdemaras Rupšys, and other representatives of the Lithuanian Armed Forces took part in the meeting of the Lithuanian and French Presidents Gitanas Nausėda and Emmanuel Macron with the leadership of the multinational NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group and the French military contingent serving within it in Rukla.
The French detachment of nearly 300 members deployed to Lithuania for six months of duty in July. Like all the other eFP contingents, the French soldiers brought their combat, logistical and administrative equipment. The maneuver unit serves with Leclerc main battle tanks and VBCI infantry fighting vehicles.
This is the fourth contingent that France deploys to implement the NATO deterrence and defence measures in the Baltic states through activities of the NATO eFPs in Lithuania and Estonia. The last time France deployed soldiers to the eFP in Lithuania was in 2018.
The NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group deployed in Lithuania since early 2017 has the total strength of over 1,200 soldiers. Its framework nation is Germany and contributing nations are the Netherlands, Norway, Czech Republic, Belgium, Iceland, and Luxembourg.
Defence cooperation of Lithuania and France
The two countries develop cooperation through various formats: NATO, European Union, bilaterally, etc. France is one of the most active contributors to the NATO Air Policing Mission in the Baltic states: it has contributed eight rotations so far (five have been conducted from Šiauliai Air Base, two from Estonia, and one from Poland).
The countries maintain the strategic dialogue through meetings of representatives of the Lithuanian and the French Ministries of Defence and their corresponding militaries, Lithuanian-French defence workshops.
Defence cooperation is also developed in the framework of bilateral and multilateral military exercises. The cooperation is particularly intense in the form of military training: Lithuanian officers are sent to study in military education institutions in France, academic student exchange is conducted between military academies and scientific research centres of both countries.
Lithuania and France work together in multinational operations. Nearly half of the total of 120 Lithuanian soldiers deployed to international operations at the moment are in Africa. One of the best instances of Lithuania’s cooperation with France in multinational operations so far has been Lithuania’s contribution to the French national operation Sangaris in the Central African Republic. Lithuania’s contributions to international missions and operations in Mali (EUTM Mali), Central African Republic (EUTM RCA) and the UN-led operation in Mali (MINUSMA) can also be seen as concrete support to France.
The two countries also cooperate on defence procurement – in 2013 the Ministry of National Defence signed a contract with the Franco-German-Spanish Eurocopter Group on procurement of three AS 365 Dauphin helicopters for the Lithuanian Armed Forces. France is also inviting representatives of Lithuania and other Baltic states to large-scale defence industry events – Eurosatory, Euronaval.
Photo credits: Alfredas Pliadis/MoD