March 29 marks the 18th anniversary of Lithuania’s membership in NATO, celebrated on that day with a concert at Lukiškių Square in Vilnius. Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas noted that this year’s anniversary is particularly significant, with NATO showing its intention to ensure the safety of Eastern Europe by sending additional troops there after Russia initiated the current war in Ukraine. He said that this war changes many things, and demonstrates the cost of security and freedom, uniting the members of NATO in its goal to help Ukraine. NATO is the most successful alliance in history, ensuring guarantees of progress, security and freedom in Europe and North America.
Meeting with Netherlands PM
In a meeting last week with Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte Lithuanian president Gitanas Nausėda said he had proposed that the Netherlands send more troops to Lithuania and increase the country’s forces currently deployed as part of the NATO Forward Presence battalion. Some 250 Dutch troops are now stationed in Lithuania. According to M. Rutte, all NATO allies are responsible for protecting its Eastern flank, which “makes Dutch military personnel here in Lithuania more relevant than ever”. He stressed the importance of EU-NATO unity in the wake of Russia’s aggression.
“It is vital that we all, as European partners and NATO allies, continue to act with unity. As an immediate neighbour of both Russia and Belarus, Lithuania plays a crucial role in safeguarding European security,” the Dutch prime minister said.