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2021.10.18 15:31

Lithuania heeds call from France, agrees to send troops and aircraft to Mali

BNS2021.10.18 15:31

Lithuania will send troops and a transport aircraft to the French-led mission in Mali, according to Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas.

"We have taken France's needs and requests into account, and this operation has been approved," the minister told reporters.

"The input will depend on the situation in the region and specifically in Mali, and also from the involvement of France and allies in the future," he added.

Read more: Lithuanian troops in Mali may soon encounter Russian mercenaries

Lithuanian troops are currently deployed alongside German troops in Mali as part of a UN mission. According to MP Laurynas Kasčiūnas, up to 20 troops will now take part in the French-led Takuba operation against an Islamist insurgency that broke out in 2012.

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

French President Emmanuel Macron sent a letter to his Lithuanian counterpart Gitanas Nausėda last summer, asking for the country’s contribution to the mission.

Involvement of Lithuanian Air Force

The country will also send a Spartan military transport aircraft to the French-led mission.

In line with France's request for logistical support, Lithuania is planning to send a Spartan transport aircraft and a team of 12 people, according to Anušauskas.

The aircraft would be stationed in Niger and would carry out tasks in Mali, he added.

Lithuania approves mission in Iraq, Mozambique

Anušauskas also confirmed that Lithuania is planning to send special operations troops to train local forces in Iraq.

The minister said that this will require extending the existing mandate for the deployment of up to 40 troops to the US-led coalition's Operation Inherent Resolve.

He provided no details about the number of troops to be deployed to Iraq, citing sensitivity of the information.

Lithuania’s State Defense Council – which includes the country’s president, chief of defence, prime minister, defence minister, and speaker of the parliament – also approved plans for the country to send two staff officers to a new EU training mission in Mozambique.

The Lithuanian parliament is expected to approve the mandate for international missions in 2022–2023 during its autumn session.

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