With the deterrence measures in place, we have to proceed to consider strengthening defence, R. Karoblis said to the Northern Group Defence Ministers
“NATO enhanced Forward Presence is an effective deterrent that has reinforced the security along the eastern NATO borders at its core, however, with Russia showcasing conventional power increasingly more aggressively, we have to strengthen our collective defence capabilities, namely, to develop regional air defence, to strengthen maritime defence components, and to solve the logistical challenges quick movement of back-up forces into the region faces” Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis stated on November 7 in Helsinki at the Northern Group Defence Ministers’ meeting.
The Defence Ministers of Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia and the Head of the Defence Department of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Iceland traditionally present at such meetings were joined by Secretary of Defence of the United States James Mattis to discuss the security in the region.
“The Northern Group Defence Ministers agreed unilaterally that the biggest threat for regional security was posed by the growing Russia’s military power. Exercise Zapad 2017 showed that Russia had learnt the lessons from Georgia, Ukraine and Syria, and is now consistently upgrading its armed forces,” R. Karoblis said. Therefore, according to the Minister, it was necessary to ensure that implementation of the deterrence measures would be reinforced with additional defence capabilities and measures. The Minister also underscored that physical NATO, especially, U.S. presence in the region, as well as joint exercises of allies, is a strong signal of deterrence for external threats. When presenting Lithuania’s efforts to strengthen defence, i.e. increased defence budget, modernization, the Continuous Mandatory Initial Military Service which particularly strengthened the Armed Forces, and increasing public resilience to hybrid threats, R.Karoblis invited the countries to seek long-term joint defence measures.
Increasing defence spending remains an important aspect nearly all the Ministers addressed in their remarks. U.S. Secretary of Defence J. Mattis underscored that the United States sought to support those who took care of their security themselves, and equal burden-sharing among partners is an essential precondition of collective defence. “We have to identify clearly what are the capabilities that we lack to counter the threats. My aim is to cooperate with our partners, to supplement our defence with the capabilities it lacks,” the U.S. Defence Secretary said at the meeting when addressing the strengthening of deterrence and defence measures in the Baltic Sea region. He also pointed out the necessity of the NATO Command Structure Review for strengthening the capabilities to ensure immediate and efficient collective defence.
On November 6 the Minister took part in the Nordic-Baltic Defence Ministers’ meeting where Defence Ministers of 8 countries discussed the security situation in the region, exchanged insights on the dynamics of emerging challenges, and collective means to address them. The Lithuanian Minister underlined the importance of NATO-EU defence cooperation. “Europe should do more for its defence. The new Permanent Structured Cooperation initiative has to help developing our capabilities but not duplicate NATO efforts. Lithuania invites PESCO countries to join a project for strengthening mutual support in cyber defence,” Minister R.Karoblis said when presenting Lithuania’s project in the European Union format. The meeting also addressed the countries’ contribution to multinational missions and operations , assistance to Ukraine, Georgia and other partners.
On November 6 Vice Minister of National Defence Edvinas Kerza discussed cooperation of Lithuania and Finland in cyber defence and the possibilities of strengthening European Union cyber defence at a meeting with Secretary at the Ministry of Defence of Finland Jukka Juusti in Helsinki.
Vice Minister E. Kerza presented Lithuania’s initiative to strengthen cyber defence sector in the format of the Permanent Structure Cooperation (PESCO) format initiated by the European Union. In his turn, J. Juusti expressed support to the Lithuanian proposal to strengthen mutual assistance among countries and to form rapid response cyber defence teams. The project will be presented at the upcoming EU Defence Ministers meeting, other EU members are welcome to join in.
Vice Minister of National Defence E. Kerza also discussed security situation in the region and cooperation in cyber defence at a meeting with Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Finland Anne Sipiläinen.
On November 6-7 Vice Minister of National Defence E. Kerza is attending Nordic-Baltic and the Northern Group Defence Ministers’ meeting with Minister of National Defence Raimundas Karoblis. The event in Helsinki addresses security situation in the region and serves as a venue for data and insight exchange on threats and possible joint countermeasures, discussion on the countries’ participation in multinational missions and operations, and NATO-EU cooperation to strengthen the countries’ security.
Press release of MoD of Lithuania.
Photo credits: MoD of Lithuania and Janne Karjalainen (Ministry of Defence of Finland).
On 23 October, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius met with the Finnish Minister for Foreign Affairs Timo Soini in Helsinki. The two Ministers discussed relations between Lithuania and Finland, the Baltic Sea region’s security situation, issues related to transatlantic cooperation, the Eastern Partnership, situations in Russia and Ukraine.