US, Germany and Netherlands to bolster forces in Lithuania amid Ukraine war

Baltic state’s defense minister says additional deployments and upcoming maneuvers will bring foreign NATO troop count to 4,000; UK warns Europe faces ‘new Iron Curtain’

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, right, greets Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Andra, the commander of the multi-national NATO Enhanced Forward Presence battalion in Lithuania during a visit to the Rukla military base some 100 km (62.12 miles) west of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)
German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, right, greets Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Andra, the commander of the multi-national NATO Enhanced Forward Presence battalion in Lithuania during a visit to the Rukla military base some 100 km (62.12 miles) west of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

The US, Germany, and the Netherlands will send additional military forces to fellow NATO ally Lithuania, the Baltic country’s defense minister said Saturday, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said additional air defenses will be deployed by Berlin, with Washington and the Dutch to send soldiers, according to Reuters.

The US infantry battalion will reportedly be accompanied by tanks.

Anusauskas said the additional forces are separate from military maneuvers Lithuania is set to host in March. He added that the number of foreign NATO troops in the country will rise to 4,000 by the end of the month.

Lithuania has asked its allies to send more troops and equipment following Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.

On Friday, Britain’s defense minister warned that Europe faces “a new Iron Curtain” as he launched UK-led military maneuvers in the Baltic Sea as a show of defiance against Russia.

Ben Wallace met his Danish and Swedish counterparts in Copenhagen to mark the start of activity by the Joint Expeditionary Force, a UK-led coalition of ten northern European states focused on security in the Arctic, Baltic, and North Atlantic.

Britain’s Defense Secretary Ben Wallace opens delivers somber comments Tuesday as he opens a conference of defense ministers at Belvoir Castle, Leicestershire, England, on February 22, 2022. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the Joint Expeditionary Force announced “an exercise demonstrating JEF nations’ freedom of movement” in the strategic zone.

We are “worried if a new Cold War and a new Iron Curtain will descend across Europe,” Wallace said, speaking on the deck of the Danish frigate Niels Juel.

Under a Swedish escort, the ship will deliver Danish troops to bolster NATO deployments in Estonia, Wallace said.

He said the moves sent a message to Russian President Vladimir Putin “that we are all together, whether in NATO or not, joined at the hip by our common values.”

Danish Defense Minister Morten Bodskov warned of the “horrific situation” in Ukraine and called on the international community “to send a strong and clear signal that what we’re seeing now is completely unacceptable.”

Ukrainian servicemen carry a baby stroller after crossing the Irpin river on an improvised path under a bridge that was destroyed by a Russian airstrike, while assisting people fleeing the town of Irpin, Ukraine, on March 5, 2022. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

The JEF, set up in 2012, is made up of NATO members Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, the UK, and non-members Finland and Sweden.

“The one thing we all know President Putin doesn’t like is seeing lots of international flags,” Wallace said.

“When he sees Sweden, Finland, NATO countries side by side that’s the strongest message we can send.”

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