At Lithuania's initiative, nine EU member states have agreed to create a cyber rapid response force, Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis said.
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Lithuania, Estonia, Croatia, the Netherlands and Romania will sign the agreement in Luxembourg on Monday and France, Spain, Poland and Finland will officially join it by the end of the year.

"The aim is to create EU cyber rapid response teams rotating on a semi-annual basis," the minister told BNS in an interview.

Karoblis said that the EU's rotational teams could come to the aid of member states in the event of major cyber incidents.

In his words, the possibility of using EU budget funds to purchase hardware and software for the project will be discussed with EU bodies.

A rotating schedule for the force is planned to be approved next year, but Lithuania will include a prototype European force into its national drills as early as this year, the minister said.

Four other countries -- Belgium, Greece, Slovenia and Germany -- are joining the project as observers.

Lithuanian intelligence bodies say that hostile cyber activity is mostly related to Russia and mostly targets Lithuania's public authorities and its energy sector.

The planned cyber force is one of the first projects under last year's agreement on closer defense cooperation in the EU.

Lithuania had for years been skeptical about European military cooperation, worrying that it might overlap NATO and reduce the US role in Europe.

However, Lithuania's position started to change in the wake of US President Donald Trump's criticism of the Alliance and Britain's decision to leave the EU.

President Dalia Grybauskaitė said in her annual State of the Nation Address last week that Lithuania should "not be afraid of being at the forefront of EU integration because we will be strong only if we join our efforts in military, energy, cyber and economic security".

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