To counter Russia, Germany begins sending 5,000 troops to Lithuania

German Bundeswehr soldiers from the 45th Brigade Lithuania arrive at an airport in Vilnius, Lithuania, Monday, April 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
By John Cody
3 Min Read

Germany has established a military base in Lithuania to deter Russia from launching new attacks against its neighbors, with the base expected to be fully operational by 2027 and house almost 5,000 troops.

The first group of German troops arrived in Lithuania on Monday as part of a new brigade regularly stationed on NATO’s eastern flank. The team of about 20 troops will start setting up the base and be joined by 4,800 German soldiers in the final phase, according to news outlet Makronom.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said it was the first time such a unit had been permanently stationed outside Germany. Reacting to the deployment, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the German military presence in Lithuania was increasing tensions.

According to the German defense ministry, the new military base is aimed at deterring Russia from launching new attacks on its neighbors following the Russia-Ukraine war. Lithuania borders the Russian Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad and Moscow’s close ally Belarus. According to the Bundeswehr, this makes Lithuania the most vulnerable state on NATO’s eastern flank.

The West has long seen the Suwalki Corridor, the part of Lithuania’s territory between the two, as a potential flashpoint between Russia and NATO. The aim is to have 4,800 troops and some 200 civilians regularly stationed in Lithuania in cooperation with NATO.

Berlin deploys an allied battalion from Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia as the nucleus of the new Lithuanian brigade. The third battalion will be a multinational NATO unit as part of the Alliance’s reinforced advanced presence force. One battalion is already in Lithuania, under German command, with rotational personnel from several other nations.

Although Germany has featured troops in a number of foreign missions, such as Afghanistan and several African countries including South Sudan, all these had been part of international efforts, whereas the Lithuania mission is a purely German one. In addition, all of these missions were seen as temporary missions, whereas the troop base in Lithuania is seen as a permanent base.

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