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2019.10.29 10:05

Nausėda to Lukashenko: 'We do not need other lands, nor do we need to intimidate our neighbours'

BNS, LRT.lt2019.10.29 10:05

Following reports that Belarus will send more troops to the Lithuanian border in response to US presence in the Baltic country, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said "we do not need other lands, nor do we need to intimidate our neighbours, because our policy has been, is and will be peaceful".

Nausėda's statement comes in response to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, who said on Monday that Minsk will respond to US stationing 30 tanks in Lithuania, but will "not rattle sabers".

However, later on Monday, Belarusian Defence Minister Andrei Ravkov announced measures, including sending more troops to the Lithuanian border, according to the Belarusian state-owned news agency, BelTA.

Speaking on Žinių Radijas radio station on Tuesday, Nausėda said "the deployment of NATO troops and NATO equipment to Lithuania is no more than a desire to protect people from potential interventions so that they could safely build their well-being".

"That is the only goal of Lithuania's defence policy," he added. "We are making efforts to protect our country."

American armour arrived in Lithuania on October 21 for a rotational deployment as part of US Army Europe Operation Atlantic Resolve, aimed at deterring Russia. The battalion-sized force is bringing 30 Abrams tanks, 25 Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) and 70 wheeled vehicles, and will stay in Lithuania until spring 2020.

The US deployed a company-sized unit of around 200 troops to Lithuania in 2014 in response to Russia's annexation of Crimea, but pulled out the rotational force in 2017 after NATO's German-led international battalion was stationed in the country.