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2021.06.09 14:15

Lithuanian special forces to deploy to Mali if political decision made – military chief

BNS2021.06.09 14:15

Politicians are currently looking into France’s previous request to send special operations troops to Mali. However, the military does not have information yet, Valdemaras Rupšys, chief of the Lithuanian armed forces, told BNS in an interview on Wednesday.

If a political decision is made, the military "will be ready and will definitely go and perform its duty". Lithuanian military personnel from the National Defence Volunteer Force (KASP) are currently serving in Mali alongside the German forces.

Read more: Lithuania sends additional troops to Mali

Meanwhile, Rupšys said the remaining Lithuanian troops are scheduled to return home in July.

"That's the plan but it might change depending on the situation there," he said. "These are the units ensuring security for the forces being withdrawn and they should leave the last.”

Therefore, Lithuania’s military police units will be among the last to withdraw, he added.

By taking part in the NATO operation in Afghanistan, Lithuania's army has shown that it is "reliable, professional and well organised".

Non-vaccinated troops to face service restrictions

Troops refusing to get the Covid-19 jab will face service restrictions, according to Rupšys.

"It's a freedom of choice [to get vaccinated or not], but people who refuse to get vaccinated will simply restrict themselves considerably," Rupšys said. "We have to admit that they are a source that might spread the virus."

Non-vaccinated troops will not be able to take part in international drills and missions, he added.

Some 11,500 Lithuanian troops have so far been vaccinated against Covid-19 and another 4,000 have had the virus, according to Rupšys.

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