Former defence chief becomes adviser to Lithuanian president

President Gitanas Nausėda appointed the former Chief of Defence Jonas Vytautas Žukas as his national security adviser on Monday.

“We are glad Žukas joined our team […] we are looking forward to welcoming him,” Nausėda spokesman Aistis Zabarauskas told BNS.

The president said already during his election campaign in April he wanted to see Žukas on his team.

Žukas, 57, led Lithuania’s army from 2014 until last week. He earlier served as Lithuania’s military representative at NATO and the EU, was commander of the Land Force and other army units.

Žukas’ appointment as a presidential advisor has been followed by criticism over the potential to politicize the army.

During a presidential election debate organized by BNS, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis said Nausėda violated “the constitutional principle of a state under the rule of law [and] the depoliticization of the armed forces” when he mentioned Žukas as his potential national security adviser.

Nausėda and Žukas were also criticized over the fact they met through Valdas Sutkus, the head of Lithuania’s Business Confederation. At the time, Žukas said Sutkus had proposed meeting with Nausėda as an old acquaintance, not as a business representative.

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