Written by Claire Rooth
Edited by Paul Dybjer
Germany is preparing to permanently station 4,000 troops in Lithuania to strengthen NATO’s Eastern Flank. This was announced by German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius during a visit to the Lithuanian capital Vilnius on Monday (The Associated Press, 2023). “We explicitly acknowledge our responsibility and our obligation as a NATO member state, as the largest economy in Europe, to stand up for the protection of the eastern flank”, Pistorius stated (Pitel & Foy, 2023). Pistorius was accompanied by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who welcomed this announcement and praised Germany for its dedication to NATO’s collective defence strategy (The Associated Press, 2023).
Germany currently leads the enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) mission in Lithuania, which NATO set up in 2017 in response to rising threats from Russia (Brzozowksi et al., 2023). This NATO battlegroup is comprised of approximately 1,600 soldiers, 800 of whom are from Germany. In addition, Germany pledged to keep a brigade of 3,000 to 5,000 troops on stand-by to send to Lithuania if needed (Pitel & Foy, 2023). Lithuania, however, had long demanded a large permanent German deployment in the country, to which the German government did not immediately commit (Wilke & Von der Buchard, 2023). According to NATO diplomats, this issue created significant tensions between the two nations over the last year (Brzozowksi et al., 2023).
As Germany agreed to Lithuania’s longstanding demand, Pistorius stressed the importance of having the necessary infrastructure in place before deployment. “We agree that the brigade will grow step-by-step as the infrastructure is established”, he stated (Reuters, 2023). Pistorius added that the deployment would take “more than a few months” (Pitel & Foy, 2023). Lithuania’s President Gitanas Nauseda expressed his goal of having the infrastructure ready by 2026 (Reuters, 2023). Beyond having sufficient infrastructure, Pistorius added the condition that SACEUR, the alliance’s supreme commander in Europe, must maintain military flexibility in Eastern Europe (Wilke & Von der Buchard, 2023).
Brzozowski, A., Pugnet, A., Alipour, N. (2023, June 26). Germany to permanently station 4,000 troops in Lithuania. Euractiv. https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/news/germany-to-permanently-station-4000-troops-in-lithuania/
Pitel, L. & Foy, H. (2023, June 26). Germany plans ‘permanent’ force in Lithuania to strenghten Nato’s eastern flank. Financial Times. https://www.ft.com/content/78f80ec0-6df8-4f8a-902d-f319afb9fe90
Reuters. (2023, June 26). With eyes on Russia, Germany ready to station troops permanently in Lithuania. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/germany-ready-permanent-brigade-presence-nato-member-lithuania-2023-06-26/
The Associated Press. (2023, June 26). Germany offers to station 4,000 troops in Lithuania to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank. ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/germany-offers-station-4000-troops-lithuania-strengthen-natos-100378592
Wilke, P. & Von der Buchard, H. (2023, June 26). Germany ready to put 4,000 soldiers permanently in Lithuania. Politco. https://www.politico.eu/article/germany-station-4000-soldiers-permanently-lithuania/