Lithuania and Poland planning joint military exercises in defense of the Suwałki Gap

Polish President Andrzej Duda, right, and Lithuania's President Gitanas Nausėda, left, shake hands after a press conference, near Szypliszki, Poland, Thursday, July 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Michal Dyjuk)
By Grzegorz Adamczyk
3 Min Read

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda announced progress in discussions with Poland’s President Andrzej Duda on joint military exercises with the Polish army in his annual address to the Lithuanian parliament.

“The strong relations between Lithuania and Poland are expanding into new areas,” said Nausėda. He mentioned that together with Duda, they had initiated a dialogue “on the plan for military exercises involving the Armed Forces of the Republic of Poland in our country, specifically focusing on the defense of the Suwałki Gap.”

The Lithuanian leader further noted that significant measures had already been taken to strengthen the country’s military security. The main topics addressed by the Lithuanian leader were the conflict situation in the region and the imperative to enhance national security.

Nausėda highlighted that the Russian threat to Lithuania and the region was not weakening.

“On the contrary, we see efforts to build up arms in Kaliningrad, we hear about plans to deploy forces on NATO’s eastern borders, and nuclear weapons are being stationed in Belarus,” Nausėda pointed out.

Referring to Ukraine’s experience, the Lithuanian president emphasized that Lithuania must increase the reserves of the armed forces and strengthen its national and regional air defense capabilities by accelerating the acquisition of medium-range air defense systems.

He expressed hope that the NATO summit in Vilnius in July will be able to confirm the achieved agreement regarding the rotational model of air defense for the Baltic states, as well as the agreement on the new, detailed regional defense plans.

In early June, the Lithuanian president stated that he was discussing “closer cooperation in the field of military security” with Poland’s president. Nausėda noted at the time that “more of Poland in Lithuania” would be one of the strategic goals of his country.

“I must admit honestly that I would be very pleased with that because we have really achieved good dynamics in our relations with Poland, both in the military and security spheres,” Nauseda said at the time. He added that “especially in the current circumstances, it would really be worthwhile to take advantage of this excellent mutual engagement.”

Meanwhile, Duda emphasized in an interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro in February that “if the Suwałki Gap, the 65-kilometer border between Poland and Lithuania, between Belarus and the Russian Kaliningrad Oblast, is not defended, the Baltic countries will be cut off from the rest of NATO.” As he said, “we take the issue very seriously, both Poland and our Baltic partners.”

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