German troops leading NATO's multinational battalion in Lithuania will be present in the country until the security situation improves, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Vilnius on Thursday.
German troops
© Reuters / Scanpix

"The situation changed with the unlawful annexation of Crimea and Lithuania more than any other country feels that threat," Steinmeier told reporters after meeting with his Lithuanian counterpart, Dalia Grybauskaitė.

"I cannot answer exactly now for how long the German soldiers will be in Lithuania. Until the situation objectively changes for the better, we will have to implement that decision," he added.

NATO this year deployed multinational battalions in the three Baltic countries and Poland as a deterrent to Russia following its actions in Ukraine and the Baltic Sea region.

Grybauskaite said that even though the battalions include troops from 23 NATO member states, they only ensure deterrence and other measures are necessary to further beef up the defense of the Baltic countries.

"We will continue to invest so that another NATO summit is devoted to a further reform of NATO, which has to invest in a new quality and speed of its decision-making, to review NATO capabilities' deployment map, with a stronger focus on NATO's eastern flank and on air defense in particular," she said.

The Lithuanian president noted that "Germany managed to overcome rather complex feelings" when it made the decision to lead the battalion in Lithuania.

Germans are cautious about sending their military personnel to Eastern European following the Nazi atrocities of the 20th century.

Military cooperation between Lithuania and Germany has intensified in recent years. Lithuania is buying a considerable amount of weapons and military equipment, including fighting vehicles and howitzers, from Germany.

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