Up to 12,000 officers and soldiers to guard NATO summit in Lithuania, Spain’s air defense systems to protect heads of state

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, left, and European Council President Charles Michel arrive for an EU summit at the European Council building in Brussels, Thursday, June 29, 2023. European leaders meet for a two-day summit to discuss Ukraine, migration and the economy. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
By Dénes Albert
3 Min Read

Depending on the situation, up to 12,000 security personnel may be needed to ensure the safety of participants at the NATO summit in Vilnius on July 11-12, German news agency dpa reported on Monday.

The security personnel, including 3,000 Lithuanian and 1,000 NATO troops will be responsible for the security of the heads of state and government of 40 countries and 150 other high-ranking politicians, a Lithuanian security officer and a military spokesman told a news conference in Vilnius. However, in addition, other police forces will also deploy, number potentially in the thousands.

Lithuania borders the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad to the west and Moscow’s ally Belarus to the east. On Monday, the Spanish embassy in Vilnius announced that its NASAMS air defense system, stationed in Latvia, would be relocated to Vilnius to protect the NATO summit.

“We confirm that Spain will contribute with the NASAMS air defense system to ensure the safety of the NATO Summit in Vilnius,” the Spanish embassy in Vilnius told local news agency BNS.
The Norwegian-American-made, medium-range NASAMS surface-to-air missile system is capable of destroying drones, missiles and aircraft.

Berlin announced in late May that it would deploy Patriot air defense systems and troops to Lithuania for the summit and will contribute with military capabilities on land, air and sea to secure the meeting, according to a May statement by the German Federal Ministry of Defense.

Poland will transfer a contingent of its special forces to neighbor Lithuania to help guarantee the security of the NATO summit in Vilnius in July, said Jacek Siewiera, head of the National Security Bureau (BBN) in the Office of the Head of State in Warsaw.

While Siewiera did not specify the size of the Polish security contingent, he said that the soldiers will carry out their tasks using air transport equipment, helicopters and drone interception systems. He said that the mission had been approved by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and National Defense Minister Mariusz Blaszczak.

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