“We are entering a new stage of cooperation with our strategic ally in defence, Poland. We have held for the first time a bilateral Defence Ministers Council, this format will enable us to cooperate in defence area even more systemically and closely. The Council will meet on a regular basis in the future,” Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis said after the first Lithuanian-Polish Defence Council in Vilnius with Minister of National Defence of Poland Mariusz Błaszczak on January 29.
R. Karoblis stressed the importance of the bilateral Defence Ministers Council and pointed out that such a cooperation sent a clear signal of our unity and preparedness to defend ourselves together if necessary to potential aggressors. “We will be able to ensure the security of our countries and the entire region only if we are sure how we would defend ourselves, in all – national, bilateral, regional, and NATO formats – while it’s still peacetime. Both, Poland and Lithuania share the view on the major current threats in the region and name them clearly,” Minister said.
The bilateral Defence Council will address concrete practical issues, such as, regional air defence or military mobility, deployment of allied reinforcement via the Suwalki Gap, etc.
At the meeting Chiefs of Defence of Lithuania and Poland also signed an act of affiliation of the Lithuanian Armed Forces Mechanised Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf and the 15th Mechanised Brigade of the Polish Armed Forces to the Multinational Division North-East HQ, that way embedding the objective of both countries to train and act together in order to protect the Suwalki Gap. The affiliation will also facilitate a concrete and force-based NATO planning for our region at military and political levels.
“This document identifies several areas of affiliating the Lithuanian and the Polish brigades to the NATO Multinational Division North-East HQ and coordination of activity. These areas are training and exercises, strategic communication, and situational awareness. Both, the Iron Wolf Brigade and the Polish 15th Mechanised Brigade remain in national subordination and no organic changes will take place. This document brings to us additional commitments to develop cooperation and share experience. It will allow us to improve both countries’ armed forces and contribute to strengthening NATO,” Chief of Defence of Lithuania Lt Gen Valdemaras Rupšys said.
Another topic agreed to at the Council was seeking more United States presence in the region: the U.S. presence has strategic value in terms of both, deterrence, and guarantee of defence of the entire region. The shared need of Lithuania and Poland to see longer deployment of the U.S. forces in our region was also discussed.
Aside from addressing the most topical issues and opportunities of strengthening our defence, the Ministers also signed a joint communique laying out areas of closer cooperation between the two countries.
The Lithuanian-Polish Council is arranged in order to put into practice the Joint Declaration of the President of Lithuania and the President of Poland concerning partnership in security area endorsed on 21 February 2019. The Presidents agree in the declaration to combine efforts to achieve cornerstone objectives for regional security both, bilaterally and in NATO and EU formats.