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German defence minister in Lithuania for first foreign visit

By AFP
19 December 2021   |   9:52 am
German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht travels to Lithuania on Sunday to visit troops stationed in the Baltic NATO member, her first trip abroad since taking office.

German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht is welcomed by vice-admiral Kay-Achim Schoenbach onboard the corvette “Oldenburg” during a visit of the naval base Warnemuende, on December 17, 2021. (Photo by Bernd W¸stneck / POOL / AFP)

German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht travels to Lithuania on Sunday to visit troops stationed in the Baltic NATO member, her first trip abroad since taking office.

The visit comes as Lithuania and fellow Baltic nations Estonia and Latvia worry about regional security after Russia deployed tens of thousands of troops near its border with Ukraine.

Lambrecht, who was named defence minister this month, will meet with her Lithuanian counterpart Arvydas Anusauskas to discuss the security situation as well as bilateral ties, according to the Lithuanian defence ministry.

Around 550 German troops are stationed at the Lithuanian military base in Rukla as Germany leads the multinational battalion in the country.

Similar military units were sent to other Baltic states and Poland in 2017 to deter Russian aggression after Moscow annexed Crimea and helped separatists take over parts of eastern Ukraine three years earlier.

But today, the situation in the eyes of Lithuania is not better, and is maybe even worse.

After amassing some 100,000 troops near Ukraine, Russia on Friday unveiled proposals to contain the role of the United States and NATO in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, calling for urgent negotiations with Washington.

The proposals call for the US-led NATO alliance not to bring in new members or establish bases in ex-Soviet countries.

The West has threatened Russia with harsh sanctions should its soldiers enter into Ukraine.

In the wake of Ukraine discussions by EU leaders in Brussels last week, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said the current regional security situation is “probably … the most dangerous it’s been in 30 years”.