Lithuania needs more air defense capabilities

Lithuania needs more air defense capabilities, Lithuania’s President-elect Gitanas Nauseda told NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg on Friday.

The future president and the NATO secretary general had a phone conversation, Aistis Zabarauskas, spokesman for Nauseda, told BNS Lithuania on Friday.

“We said air defense is important and we want more of it,” Zabarauskas said.

Air defense is the Baltic states’ weakest point in military terms. The Baltic states do not have their own air defense capabilities, therefore, the Alliance’s other member countries carry out an air policing mission in the Baltic states o na rotational basis.

The Baltic states want the policing mission to be turned into an air defense mission, which would mean that stationed fighter jets could be involved in combat tasks.

Lithuania has short-range air defense systems and is purchasing medium-range air defense systems but cannot afford long-range missiles, like Patriot, capable of downing aircraft and ballistic missiles.

Zabarauskas said the president-elect and the NATO chief also discussed other matters on the NATO agenda, including defense spending, the NATO bolstering strategy, foreign operations and mission, as well as the upcoming summit on Dec. 3-4.

“The NATO secretary general paid attention to the important of meeting financial commitments for Lithuania to maintained 2 percent GDP defense spending,” Nauseda’s spokesman said. “The president-elect spoke about bolstering the deterrence policy and our hosting national commitments when hosting allied forces.”

Nauseda and Stoltenberg also discused NATO’s support to Eastern partners, Zabarauskas said.

Following the conversation, Nauseda posted on Facebook that Stoltenberg told him that “Lithuania is an important and valued ally with exemplary implementation of its commitment to the Alliance.”

“I said we understand each other well not only because we are allies but also because we are both economists. It’s another common denominator helping us to understand each other,” the future president said.

Nauseda will be inaugurated on July 12.

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