The first group of German and Belgian troops arrived in Lithuania on January 24, 2017, part of a NATO move to reinforce its eastern flank in a bid to deter a militarily resurgent Russia. A contingent of German officers landed in the Baltic state’s capital Vilnius to coordinate the deployment of a 1,200-strong battalion that will include forces from several NATO members.
Hours earlier, some 30 Belgian troops arrived at another airport in western Lithuania while a ship carrying logistical equipment docked at the Baltic Sea port of Klaipeda, according to Lithuania’s military spokesman captain Andrius Dilda.
In addition to the German-led battalion in Lithuania, Canada will lead a multi-national battalion in Latvia, Britain in Estonia and the US in Poland.
Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite has called Berlin’s decision to lead the NATO battalion a “breakthrough” toward it playing a greater role in European defense.