2020.05.05 16:43

Lithuania to maintain defence spending despite economic hardship, president tells NATO chief

Margiris Meilutis, BNS2020.05.05 16:43

Lithuania will maintain its military spending at 2 percent of GDP despite its shrinking economy, the country's president has assured NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

“The president has emphasised that even though the [Covid-19] pandemic will affect both the social and economic sectors, it will not change Lithuania’s principled stance on its international obligations,” President Gitanas Nausėda's office said in a press release after a telephone call between the president and the NATO chief.

Read more: Provocation against NATO in Lithuania failed, says NATO chief

“Lithuania would continue to allocate 2 percent of GDP for defence spending. He [Nausėda] further said that Lithuania would also keep to its other commitments by contributing to NATO’s operations in Iraq and Afghanistan,” it said.

Lithuania is one of the nine NATO members, along with the other two Baltic states and Poland, that meet the alliance's recommendation of spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defence. The government even discussed possibilities of raising military spending to 2.5 percent.

Nausėda also told Stoltenberg that Lithuania was “closely watching Russia’s growing efforts to use the pandemic to destabilise the situation and spread disinformation in allied and partner countries”.

“We are concerned, the president said, about Russia’s continued military activity in the {EU's] Eastern neighbourhood and other regions, including Syria and Libya,” his office said.

Nausėda said that “the best response to Russia’s aggressive and destabilising actions is consistent and speedy implementation of agreed decisions and enhanced defence measures”.

Read more: NATO troops 'fall victim' to coronavirus disinformation – Lithuanian defence minister