Germany to deploy two armored battalions to Lithuania despite Russian warnings of provocation

FILE - Two Leopard 2 tanks are seen in action at the Field Marshal Rommel Barracks in Augustdorf, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)
By Dénes Albert
2 Min Read

Germany will deploy two tank battalions to Lithuania to form a new brigade together with the NATO joint forward-deployed combat team already stationed in the Baltic country, the German defense ministry has announced.

The new unit, expected to be deployed in 2025, will consist of 4,800 soldiers in total.

In a statement on Monday, the ministry said that “the 203rd Armored Battalion and the 122nd Mechanised Infantry Battalion will be transferred to Lithuania.”

The new tank unit will be called the 42nd Tank Brigade, and the additional troops will join the German-led NATO contingent once all the necessary infrastructure is in place.

At present, some 1,700 troops from six NATO member states are stationed in the Baltic country; about half of them are German soldiers.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius called the planned deployment a “lighthouse project of a new era,” stressing that instead of two brigades, the Bundeswehr would create from scratch several new units stationed on German soil.

Speaking to the German media last month, Pistorius said the move was Berlin’s way of “demonstrating solidarity and responsibility on the eastern flank.” He acknowledged Russia as a growing threat, adding that this was likely to remain the case “at least for the next few years.”

Russia, for its part, has repeatedly warned NATO not to direct its forces closer to its borders and vowed to respond accordingly to the military build-up in Eastern Europe that has escalated in the wake of the 2014 Western-backed coup in Kyiv and the subsequent conflict in eastern Ukraine.

In September, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Aleksandr Grushko accused the U.S.-led military alliance of trying to provoke a military conflict with Moscow after NATO announced plans for the largest joint military exercise since the Cold War.

The diplomat said at the time that NATO’s Steadfast Defender 2024 exercises were “clearly aggressive in nature” and an “attempt to exert military-political pressure.”

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