Courtesy the Lithuania Tribune
April 18, 2014
United States Senators John McCain, John Barrasso, John Hoeven and Ron Johnson paid a visit to the Ministry of National Defence and met with Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas, Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lieutenant General Arvydas Pocius, and other officials of the National Defence System on 16 April, reports the Defence Ministry.
The meeting addressed recent developments in Ukraine and Russia’s actions, which “threaten not only the security of Ukraine but also of the wider region,” stated the MOD in a statement. The meeting officials underscored that a unified US-EU response was required not only to demonstrate the solidarity of the Western world but also to convince Russia to stop its “illegal and illegitimate” actions in neighbouring countries.
Olekas said he hoped that an agreement inked by Lithuania’s political parties in late March to increase defence spending to two percent of the country’s GDP by 2020 will be successfully implemented but also that it would be the last document of its kind.
Olekas thanked the United States for the contribution to the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission and for the expeditious deployment of additional aircraft to strengthen the security of the Baltic airspace. The meeting officials underlined that Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty is an inviolable value when addressing building on Alliance capabilities in the Baltic States, with the MOD stating that this “is also reflected in NATO’s decision on the measures for strengthening the security of the allies made today.”
Prior to the visit in Vilnius, the US senators met with the US Air Contingent conducting the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission at the Lithuanian Air Force Base in Siauliai.
Cyber and energy security issues were also discussed in the meeting at the Ministry of National Defence.
Lithuania’s cooperation with the United States, its strategic partner, is “particularly active and intense.” Lithuanian and US military train in joint exercises on an annual basis, thus enhancing Lithuania’s Host Nation Support capacity (Exercise Baltic Host), military interoperability of Lithuania and allies (Exercise Saber Strike), and naval capabilities in the Baltic Sea (Exercise Baltic Operations), among others.
Lithuania’s cooperation with the US Special Operations Forces, the Pennsylvania National Guard, units of military training, military medicine, and others, is also “intense,” according to the MOD statement.