The first contingent of German troop reinforcements arrived in Kaunas, Lithuania’s second city, on Monday.
70 troops arrived on an A400M German Luftwaffe plane at Kaunas airport, along with around 100 howitzer cannons and military vehicles.
The German Defense Ministry had announced plans last week to send an additional 380 soldiers to Lithuania and more arrivals are expected throughout the week.
“It’s a strong signal that Germany is willing and capable of reinforcing the battlegroup immediately as needed,” said Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Andrae, the German commander of NATO troops in Lithuania.
Deployments in response to regional security concerns
The decision to shore up NATO’s eastern flank comes as Russia has amassed a significant number of forces, thought to number upwards of 100,000 soldiers, along with necessary materiel to stage a major invasion of Ukraine.
DW’s Jack Parrock on the Kaunas airfield said, “People are worried about what Russia is doing over on the other side of the border in normal times.”
He added, “It is important to say as well that there are 10 days’ worth of military drills going on over in Belarus just over the border from Lithuania.”
The newest arriving German troops will join the NATO enhanced forward presence (eFP) battlegroup already in place. The NATO battlegroups were formed in the Baltic region following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.
What do we know about the latest Bundeswehr deployment?
The latest deployments will bring the number of foreign troops in Lithuania to 1,500, approximately half coming from the German Bundeswehr.
Lithuanian authorities have welcomed the latest deployments, which come in response to Baltic concerns.
On Twitter, Lithuania’s Ministry of Defense thanked its NATO allies “for their commitment to deterrence and collective strength.”
This newest round of Bundeswehr personell includes artillery soldiers, reconnaissance specialists, medics as well as nuclear and biological warfare specialists.
ar/wmr (AFP, Reuters