Russia Boosting Military Presence at Lithuania’s Borders, Bigger US Role Needed in Baltic Region

Courtesy of Lithuania Tribune (January 7, 2012)

During her visit in Chicago (USA) on Thursday Minister of National Defence Rasa Jukneviciene attended a round-table discussion with members of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs (CCGA), met with representatives of the Chicago’s Lithuanian Community, honored the tomb of Gen P.Plechavicius and memory of pilots S. Darius and S. Girenas, Ministry of Defence reports.

NATO is the key guarantee for Lithuania’s security

In a discussion with the CCGA representatives Lithuanian Minister statited that despite the essential changes NATO has undergone during the latter 20 years, the Alliance remains the vital guarantee for Lithuania’s security.

“The Chicago NATO Summit in May will be of utmost importance to Lithuania. Lithuania anticipates positive decisions regarding the extension of the Air Policing mission, accreditation of the Energy Security Centre and NATO missile defence system”, she said.

R. Jukneviciene also remarked she expected an even more intense role of NATO and USA in the Baltic Region due to the region-specific security environment.

“Russia continually increases military activity along Lithuania’s borders, implements military reform, arranges more military training events, and carries out militarization process in the Kaliningrad Oblast,” Lithuanian Minister said. ”The regime in Lithuania’s neighborhood becomes more and more autocratic and oligarchic.”

R.Jukneviciene stressed that the decisions adopted in Chicago must strengthen NATO capability to ensure defence of the Allies’ territories. Lithuanian Minister also accentuated that practical cooperation among the Baltic States is a critical way to generate capabilities in an economical way.

“Security in the Baltic Region is a US interest as well,” said Minister of National Defence.

Moreover, she addressed energy security problems, the importance of the Baltic Air Policing mission and its extension to the Baltic States.

R. Jukneviciene also met with representatives of the Lithuanian Community of Chicago, the tomb of Gen Povilas Plechavicius at the Lithuanian National Cemetery in Chicago and together with US Congressman Daniel Lipinski honored the memory of Lithuania’s pilots S. Darius and S. Gir?nas at the monument marking their flight over the Atlantic in Marquette Park. Congressman D. Lipinski represents the 3rd Congressional District of the State of Illinois including the oldest community of Lithuanian emigrants Marquette Park; he is also the main representative of American Polish people in the US Congress.

Later on Lithuanian Minister went to the Chicago Youth Centre where she took part in a tribute ceremony for the killed for the freedom of Lithuania on January 13, 1991 organised at the Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union in Emigration. R. Jukneviciene viewed the chapel where mass and prayer are still celebrated, talked to representatives of the Riflemen’s Union.