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Only Russia can stop the current arms race with NATO as it is the one carrying out aggressive policies, raising its military budget and militarizing its economy, Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas says.
Juozas Olekas
Juozas Olekas
© DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

"The ball is now in Russia's court," he told BNS in Brussels on Wednesday night. "It started it and continues with its aggressive policy, and we must respond."

According to Olekas, NATO's decisions to step up exercises, deploy rotating forces and heavy weaponry in Eastern Europe as well as EU and US sanctions are "good signs for Russia to understand that its policy of invasions into other countries is leading nowhere".

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed on Wednesday in Brussels that NATO did not want to start an arms ace with Russia but wanted to protect its members.

His comments followed the United States' decision to pre-position heavy weaponry in six Eastern European countries, including Lithuania. They will include 90 Abrams tanks, 140 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles and 20 howitzers.

Russia later called NATO plans the most aggressive step since the end of the Cold War and pledged to reinforce its group of forces along the entire perimeter of Russia's western border and the Kaliningrad region.

Russia says America's decision to move weapons violates the bilateral agreement not to permanently station forces in the former Warsaw Pact countries. NATO says, however, all the capabilities are being deployed temporarily and are rotating.

BNS
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