Lithuanian Minister of Defence R.Karoblis: There’s no threat to Belarus from West

As Belarus voices plans to take countermeasures in response to the deployment of US troops in Lithuania, Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Raimundas Karoblis says there’s no threat to Belarus from the West.

“Lithuania has a direct interest in securing the independence and territorial integrity of Belarus, as well as in extending the economic cooperation. Therefore I can say for certain that the sovereignty of Belarus is not under military or any other type of a threat – from the West,” Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis says responding to the reaction of Belarus to the deployment of the U.S battalion in Lithuania. “The battalion-sized unit which has been deployed in Lithuania until spring simply does not present any threat to Belarus, we really hope our neighbour’s reaction will be balanced.”

Minister underscores that rotations of NATO, which includes U.S., forces in the region is a common practice, particularly in the light of 2014. “We have had these rotation before and we will have them in the future, we consider them to be an important factor of deterrence that increases the security in our region,” Minister says.

The Ministry of National Defence and the United States of America made detailed information public in advance when the deployment of a battalion was in the planning phase: the time of deployment, weaponry and equipment to be deployed, the duration of the rotation. “We intend to keep upholding exactly the same policy of transparency in the future too. We would like to get the same in return from our neighbours,” R. Karoblis says. He also stresses that the intensity of NATO military exercises designed for defence of the region has been increased in the recent years. According to Minister, the Belarusian side is closely familiar with the reasons of that intensification and that they are neither about nor against Belarus.

Information has already been made public concerning large-scale exercise in the Baltic region, Defender 2020, to be held in spring next year, and as the date is nearing, there will be even more openly provided information. Lithuania is inviting observers from all our neighbours, including Belarus and Russia, to our largest exercise seeking to foster openness and trust. “We are looking forward to the Belarusian side to take this occasion,’ R. Karoblis says.

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