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2019.12.04 10:48

NATO will back plan for Baltics against 'existential threat' from Russia – Lithuanian Defence Minister

BNS2019.12.04 10:48

NATO will endorse the updated defense plans for the Baltic states and Poland that Turkey is now blocking "sooner or later," Lithuanian Defence Raimundas Karoblis says.

According to the minister, it remains unclear if a compromise will be found during the two-day NATO summit in London that started on Tuesday.

"Sooner or later, during the [summit] or after, of course we will find the solutions. We see progress," Karoblis said during a conference on the future of the Alliance in London on Tuesday night.

Turkey is the only NATO ally refusing to back an updated defence plan for the Baltic states and Poland, until the Alliance endorses a similar plan for Turkey. It contains Ankara's much disputed bid to identify Kurdish fighters in northern Syria as terrorist groups, despite them being backed by the West in their fight against ISIS.

In response to a BNS question, the minister underlined that NATO has plans on how to defend the Baltic states but they were updated to be more detailed.

Read more: Turkey 'will stand against' NATO plans for Baltics over Syria, confirms Erdogan

The minister also said during the discussion that Lithuania needs more detailed planning on how to defend against the "existential external threat" posed by Russia, but also needs more of NATO exercises and air defense capabilities.

"For Lithuania, Russia is the only existential external threat which we have. If the country does not respect international obligations, independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity of other countries, it means that it's a real threat," Karoblis said.

The Lithuanian defence minister said he could not agree with French President Emmanuel Macron's proposal to focus on fighting terrorism instead of focusing on Russia, and said that NATO needs to take care of all threats.

"We need to cover all areas where NATO sees threats [including] Russia, terrorism and strategic competition with China," Karoblis said.

Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda said earlier he would discuss the defence plan issue with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan directly.

Nauseda said earlier the so-called "silence procedure" during which allies can raise their objections was extended until December 13.

"The silence is planned until December 13 but this issue could be amended and the date could be amended as well," the president said.

Estonian Defence Minister Juri Luik also sees the possibility for a compromise.

"The discussions are ongoing all the time. Obviously, there are opportunities during the summit to find a compromise. If we do not find it here, we hopefully will find it a bit later," Luik said in response to a BNS question.

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Part of the BNS reporter's trip to London has been paid for by the Embassy of the United Kingdom. It has no influence on the report.