By Andrius Sytas

December 11, 2015

The Lithuanian government said on Friday it would proceed with negotiations to buy 88 Boxer armored fighting vehicles in a deal worth up to 400 million euros ($439 million).

The decision, where the Boxer was selected from a list of 12 suppliers that also included Swiss Piranha and American Stryker vehicles, came as the Baltic country moves to bolster its military amid tensions between Russia and the West over the Ukraine crisis.

“After this decision, the project of the largest ever defense purchase will move forward swiftly,” Lithuanian armed forces chief Jonas Zukas told reporters.

Senior government sources told Reuters the value of the deal was expected to be no higher than 400 million euros. That would still represent is a big undertaking for Lithuania, whose total defense budget stands at 425 million euros this year.

The Boxers are to be equipped with 30mm MkII guns and anti-tank system Spike-Lr, both manufactured by Israeli companies, the sources said.

The Boxer is produced by the ARTEC consortium, a collaboration between Germany’s Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles and German defense contractor Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.

(Reporting by Andrius Sytas; Writing by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Mark Potter)