The defense minister says US troops will stay in Lithuania for a long time

The Lithuanian defense minister said on Tuesday that a new contingent of US troops and weapons would be deployed’ in Lithuania in November, but that their presence was not linked’ to the situation in neighboring Belarus.

The defense minister says US troops will stay in Lithuania for a long time

Belarus has been protesting for six weeks since the August 9 election, with President Alexander Lukashenko claiming victory.

Since then, Lukashenko has accused NATO of building near its borders, launching military exercises near the borders of Lithuania and Poland, and putting half of its troops on high alert.

More than 500 US troops, about 25 Abrams tanks and about 30 Bradley armored vehicles will replace a contingent arriving in Lithuania on September 4 for a two-month stay near the Belarusian border. The new force will last until mid-June 2021.

Defense Secretary Raimondas Karoblis said US troops in Lithuania were not involved in the situation in Belarus.

Belarus's military activity near the border has declined this month compared to the weapons in August, Karoblis said.

"The US presence calms us down, it's a powerful obstacle, but it's not specifically rooted in the situation in Belarus, but rather Russia's aggression in Ukraine and Georgia," Karblius told reporters at the Pabrade Military Training Grounds. The latter is particularly closely linked’ to the geopolitical situation. "

Russia, which sees Belarus as a buffer state against the European Union and NATO, has backed Lukashenko and accused the United States of staging a revolution in its neighbor.

The US ambassador to Lithuania, Robert Gilchrist, also said there was no link between the military presence and Belarus.

"It's about preparation, it's about working with our allies. (Belarus) It has nothing to do with it," he said.


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