More German troops begin to arrive in Lithuania

KLAIPEDA: Around a hundred German soldiers arrived in Lithuania on Sunday (September 4), after Germany pledged to reinforce its presence on NATO’s eastern flank following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The troops left the ferry in the port city of Klaipeda.

They would form the command unit of a new brigade, a group usually made up of some 4,000 soldiers.

“Our message to our allies here on the eastern flank is that we are committed to ensuring security,” said brigade commander Christian Nawrat.

The commando unit would remain permanently in the Baltic nation, while combat units would join them for exercises, it added.

A senior member of the German military said the first drills could be held in October.

Germany, which is leading a NATO battle group in Lithuania, already has around 1,500 German soldiers in Lithuania.

The formerly Soviet-ruled Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which are now members of the EU and NATO, are worried they could be next if Russia defeats Ukraine.

Since the beginning of the conflict they have asked for more NATO troops and the creation of brigades to replace the current units.

Foreign Minister Olaf Scholz said in June that his country was ready to deploy more troops to Lithuania “towards a robust combat brigade that can operate both as a deterrent and to defend against aggression.”

NATO has strengthened its eastern flank in recent years, particularly since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

In 2017, four multinational battle groups were deployed to the three Baltic states and Poland.

Following the start of the Russian invasion at the end of February, NATO has decided to establish four new battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia.

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