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2019.06.14 17:21

Nausėda asks NATO secretary general for more air defence in Lithuania

Saulius Jakučionis, BNS2019.06.14 17:21

Lithuania's President-elect Gitanas Nausėda has asked NATO general secretary Jens Stoltenberg for more air defense capabilities for Lithuania.

The future president and the NATO secretary general had a phone conversation on Friday, Aistis Zabarauskas, a spokesman for Nausėda, told BNS.

“We said air defence is important and we want more of it,” Zabarauskas said.

Air defence is the Baltic states' weakest point in military terms. The Baltic states do not have their own air defence capabilities, so the Alliance's other members carry out air policing in the Baltic states on rotation.

The Baltic states want the policing mission to be turned into an air defence mission, which would mean that stationed fighter jets could be involved in combat tasks.

Lithuania has short-range air defence systems and is purchasing medium-range air defence systems, but cannot afford long-range missiles, like Patriot, capable of downing aircraft and ballistic missiles.

Zabarauskas said the president-elect and the NATO chief also discussed defence spending, a strategy to bolster NATO, foreign operations and missions, as well as the upcoming NATO summit on December 3-4.

“The NATO secretary general noted the importance of Lithuania meeting financial commitments to maintained defence spending at 2 percent of the GDP,” Nausėda's spokesman said. “The president-elect spoke about bolstering the deterrence policy and our national commitments when hosting allied forces.”

Nausėda and Stoltenberg also discussed NATO's support for Eastern partners, Zabarauskas said.

Nausėda will be inaugurated as president on July 12.