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Germany says troop deployment in Lithuania up to NATO

Germany’s defense minister said permanently deploying German troops on the NATO eastern flank is an issue to be decided by the alliance, not by Berlin.

The long-term deployment of a German brigade to Lithuania is to be determined by NATO, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Tuesday, amid calls for increased NATO presence in the country.

Speaking during a visit to the Pabrade training ground in Lithuania, Pistorius pledged Germany’s commitment to the military protection of its NATO partners “without ifs ands or buts.”

He said such the decision of where troops are based over the long term does not come down to “who wants what or who wants to provide what” but rather is a common decision made by NATO members. 

Pistorius added that Lithuania hosts more German NATO troops than soldiers from any other of the alliance’s 30 members. 

Why does Lithuania want permanently stationed troops?

Lithuania currently hosts some 1,500 German troops, with Berlin leading an international battalion since 2017, as part of a NATO effort to deter Russia. The Baltic region is among the alliance’s weakest spots on the eastern flank.

In addition, a German brigade of some 3,000 to 5,000 troops is on standby at home, ready for deployment within 10 days if necessary.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been calling for bigger and permanent NATO deployments.

NATO members, however, have raised concerns regarding the cost of a permanent deployment, as well as it restricting free troop movement along the eastern flank.

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