Germany Expanding Military Presence in Lithuania
June 27, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg was in Lithuania yesterday, accompanied by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, for Exercise Griffin Storm, a maneuver intended to test Germany’s ability to reinforce the NATO battalion that it leads there. “Griffin Storm is one of the biggest exercises in the region this year and demonstrates the ability to rapidly scale up the German-led NATO battlegroup to brigade size,” Stoltenberg said during his joint press conference with Scholz and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausedas. “This exercise sends a clear message: NATO is ready to defend every inch of Allied territory. There are now over 40,000 troops under NATO command primarily in the Eastern part of the Alliance. Backed by significant air and naval power.”
Regarding the Wagner uprising in Russia, Stoltenberg echoed the U.S. line. “I think it is important to remind you all that this is about internal Russian matters and therefore what NATO is focused on is to support Ukraine,” he said. “It demonstrates the fragility of the Russian regime but it is not for NATO to intervene in those issues. That is a Russian matter. What matters for NATO is to not be intimidated and not be prevented from continuing to provide unprecedented support for Ukraine.”
Separately but related, Germany announced that it will increase the size of its deployment in Lithuania to 4,000 troops, that is, to brigade size. “Germany is prepared to permanently station a robust brigade in Lithuania,” Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said in Vilnius, reported the Associated Press. He said infrastructure and facilities will need to be created to accommodate the soldiers and their families. Pistorius explained that Berlin’s decision to offer the brigade to Lithuania was not only because of Russia’s alleged war on Ukraine, but also because of Germany’s own history, saying that until the end of the Cold War, Germany was the country on NATO’s Eastern flank. What Pistorius didn’t say is that Lithuania is the closest that German troops have been to Moscow since World War II. That is history the Russians have not forgotten.