NATO flexes muscle to guard Vilnius summit near Russia, Belarus

NATO flexes muscle to give protection to Vilnius summit shut to Russia, Belarus

5/5 © Reuters. German Patriot air defence machine devices are viewed at the Vilnius airport in Vilnius, Lithuania July 7, 2023. REUTERS/Janis Laizans 2/5

(This July 8 yarn has been refiled to rob away extraneous observe ‘autos’ in paragraph 6, and swap ‘measures’ to ‘instruments’ in paragraph 8)

By Andrius Sytas

KANIUKAI, Lithuania (Reuters) – NATO has grew to turn into Vilnius into a fortress defended by superior weaponry to give protection to U.S. President Joe Biden and various alliance leaders assembly subsequent week handiest 32 km (20 miles) from Lithuania’s razor-wire topped border fence with Russian ally Belarus.

Sixteen NATO allies devour despatched a entire of about 1,000 troops to safeguard the July 11-12 summit, that will happen handiest 151 km (94 miles) from Russia itself. Many are moreover offering superior air defence programs which the Baltic states lack.

“It’d be better than irresponsible to devour our sky unprotected as Biden and leaders of 40 countries are arriving,” Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda acknowledged.

The Baltic countries of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, once under Moscow’s rule but share of both NATO and the European Union since 2004, all use above 2% of their economies on defence, a increased share than most various NATO allies.

Nevertheless for the repute with whole population of about 6 million people, here’s not enough to defend perfect-trying militaries, make investments of their have fighter jets or superior air defence.

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Germany deployed 12 Patriot missile launchers, pale to intercept ballistic and cruise missiles or warplanes.

Spain has introduced a NASAMS air defence machine, France is sending Caesar self-propelled howitzers, France, Finland, and Denmark are basing defense drive jets in Lithuania, and the United Kingdom and France are supplying anti-drone capabilities.

Poland and Germany despatched helicopter-enhanced special operations forces. Others are sending instruments to take care of any potential chemical, organic, radiological and nuclear assaults.

For Nauseda, the allied effort to make particular air safety at some level of the chief’s gathering manner NATO must urgently location up permanent air defences within the Baltic states.

“We mediate what occurs after the summit ends, and we can work with allies to assemble a rotating drive for a permanent air protection”, he told reporters.


At villages subsequent to the Belarus border, locals told Reuters they feel utterly stable, despite the Russian ally’s provide to accommodate Russia’s personal Wagner militia and its net hosting of Russian nuclear weapons.

“Make you mediate Wagner or Belarus would possibly perchance perchance well attack Lithuania, which is in NATO? They don’t devour the heart. NATO is NATO, and we feel ourselves stable because we are in NATO. Why would we concern those Belarussians?”, acknowledged Edvard Rynkun, 67, in Kaniukai, a village 1 km (much less than a mile) from Belarus.

“If Lithuania used to be by myself, I’d feel otherwise,” he added. “If not for the NATO membership, things here would possibly perchance perchance well already be identical as in Ukraine,” acknowledged Elena Tarasevic, 55, Rynkun’s neighbour.

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At Vilnius airport, eight German-operated Patriot missile launchers were viewed standing with their nozzles pointed within the direction of Russia’s Kaliningrad. Two extra pointed in opposition to Belarus. All of the launchers were operational since Friday morning.

“You admire the effect it’s seemingly you’ll perchance well be found geographically, and somewhat powerful the effect the threat is coming from”, acknowledged Lt Col Steffen Lieb, commander of the Patriot deployment.

“Lithuania asked us for protection of the summit, and moreover NATO asked Germany for support. This is our resolution,” he added.


Lithuania has tripled the deployment of border guards at the Belarus and Russian borders for the summer, augmented by officers from Latvia and Poland. The two countries devour moreover despatched police to support patrol Vilnius.

“We’re making prepared for various provocations”, border guard chief Rustamas Liubajevas acknowledged. He added that he feared waves of migrants at the border, or border violations, or defense drive autos acting at the border with out explanation.

Thousands of Middle Eastern migrants devour crossed at the Belarus border in 2021, in an effort Lithuania and the European Union acknowledged used to be orchestrated by Minsk, a mark it denies. The numbers devour since subsided.

“The remark is mainly very annoying, on legend of aggression of Russia in opposition to Ukraine. So the (border protection) used to be already on a if truth be told, very excessive level (before the summit)”, acknowledged Liubajevas.

Border assessments on Lithuania’s European Union borders with Poland and Latvia were reintroduced for the summit.

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The mayor of Vilnius has urged electorate bound on holiday exterior the metropolis within the event that they devour to maintain some distance from disruption, as perfect-trying parts of central Vilnius can be closed off for the summit.

(This July 8 yarn has been refiled to rob away extraneous observe ‘autos’ in paragraph 6, and swap ‘measures’ to ‘instruments’ in paragraph 8)

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