Following US media reports that the Pentagon may station heavy weapons for its troops in several Eastern European and Baltic countries, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius said on Sunday that these proposals are part of a US Congress-approved program to step up security in Eastern and Central Europe and that such weaponry would substantially change the security situation in Lithuania and throughout the region.
Linas Linkevičius
© DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

"There has been discussion for some time now, because the US Congress has approved a 1-billion-dollar support program for Eastern and Central European countries. A certain very specific amount has been allocated for Lithuania as well. This is what we have now - the rotating company stationed in Lithuania for permanent training. Certain secondary equipment and weaponry will be stationed additionally," Linkevičius said on LRT Radio.

"I will not comment specifically, since the source is a newspaper. When there are official sources, we will be able to comment specifically. But these are specific plans that are being carried out in the context of that program for enhancing security in Europe," he said.

Linkevičius said that such moves would significantly improve the security situation in the region and in Lithuania in particular. He confirmed that what is being considered is stationing weapons in all three Baltic countries and in all Central and Eastern European countries, including Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and others.

"The weaponry that will be stationed is for a larger number of troops. The operation and maintenance of that weaponry requires capabilities, but these are things that will be revealed after defense capability planners, military headquarters in particular, release more detailed information. I don't want to speak in specific figures, but this will substantially change the situation from what it currently is," he said.

The minister said that this is not a demonstration of aggression against Russia or other countries, but "purely security enhancement elements".

"This is a very important message for Lithuanian people and, as a matter of fact, for the entire world," he said.

According to The New York Times, the proposal, if approved, would mark the first time since the end of the Cold War that the US has stationed heavy military equipment, including battle tanks, in the NATO member states in Eastern Europe that were once part of the Soviet sphere of influence.

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