US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during his official visit to Lithuania on Monday allowed for the possibility of NATO permanently deploying its troops in the Baltic states amid the situation in Ukraine.
The Baltic states have requested Washington for a permanent troop deployment, which would be another defense boosting by the alliance close to the Russian borders. Earlier, Pentagon chief ordered the deployment of additional 500 soldiers to Europe.
“We’re continuously reviewing within NATO our defense posture, including looking at questions of extending the deployment of forces, looking at questions of more permanent deployments,” he said at a joint briefing with Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis in Vilnius.
The secretary of state reiterated that America’s commitment to Article 5 — which states that an attack on one NATO member is an attack against all — is “sacrosanct,” saying that “we will defend every inch of NATO territory.”
Apart from that, Blinken said the US administration is also currently reviewing its military presence around the world, including permanent deployment. The US has sent an additional 7,000 forces to NATO’s eastern territories, including Lithuania.
During his visit, Blinken announced that an additional 400 US servicemen would be deployed to Lithuania. The latter has long been requesting the US to deploy troops in the country on a regular basis. Currently, about 500 American servicemen are stationed at Lithuania’s Pabrade training ground.
This deployment will increase the number of US troops in the country to about 1,000.
On Sunday, the US chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, who also visited Lithuania, said that the US would increase its military presence in the country, sending armored vehicles, artillery and air defense units.
According to General John Kolasheski, commander of the 5th Corps of the US Army, who accompanied Milley, Lithuania will deploy anti-aircraft and anti-missile radars, a battery of M-109 self-propelled artillery systems, and Avenger air defense systems equipped with Stinger short-range missiles.
US Air Force F-35 jets were also deployed on Thursday to an air base in Siauliai, where US Special Operations Forces are serving. While in Lithuania, they will “be on alert to secure the skies over Baltic Allies, along with jets from the Royal Danish and Polish Air Forces,” according to EUtoday.
US battalions have regularly rotated in Lithuania since 2019, with the country previously hosting a company-sized contingent.
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