Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, currently in Brussels, says the existing NATO measures to defend the Baltic states from Russia are insufficient.
Gitanas Nausėda
© DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

Speaking after his meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday, Nauseda said the international allied battalion deployed in Lithuania in 2017 is a good measure to deter Russia but that would not be sufficient to defend against Moscow's attack.

"We have already a high level of deterrence but we still need much more to be done in the area of defense," Nauseda told a joint press conference at the NATO headquarters. "We are very happy to host the EFP (NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence battalion) in Lithuania, but it's not enough."

According to the president, the high concentration of Russian troops in the Kaliningrad region is posing threat to Lithuania's security.

The Baltic states are currently seeking additional air defense guarantees so that fighter jets stationed in the Baltic states as part of NATO's air policing mission could carry out defense tasks, and also for allies to bring in ground systems for military exercises more often.

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are also trying to convince allies to bolster the international battalion, stationed in 2017, with air and marine defense measures.

Moreover, they are asking for allies' contribution to ensure that in case of a conflict, the Baltic states are not cut off of the remaining NATO territory, if Russia seized the Suwalki Corridor and took over the control of the Baltic Sea. Lithuania wants more detailed NATO defense plans for the region.

Stoltenberg says NATO has significantly bolstered its presence in the Baltic Sea region and "we are constantly looking into the need to do more."

"We are now working to increase our levels of readiness so our reinforcements provide even more effective deterrence," the NATO chief said.

Nauseda also reiterated in Brussels his aspiration to have a closer dialogue with Belarus, despite Lithuania's position on the Astravyets nuclear power plant.

The president said he wished for breakthroughs in the areas of trade and investment, and also closer relations between the people of Lithuania and Belarus.

"Dialogue is much better that confrontation," the Lithuanian president said. "We want to have a better understanding of each other, so I will continue my effort to rebuild dialogue with our neighbor and to solve all the problematic issues," Nauseda said.

The Lithuanian president has recently had an undisclosed meeting with political scientists and discussed possible changes in the country's relations with Belarus.

BNS
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