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NATO bringing missiles closer to Russia – member state

NATO will station US-made Patriot anti-air missile systems in Lithuania during 2024, the Baltic country’s defense minister has announced.

Lithuania shares a border with Russia’s exclave of Kaliningrad, and with Russia’s ally Belarus.

“This year, the rotational air defense system will finally become operational, at least partially,” Arvydas Anusauskas said during a press conference in Vilnius on Thursday, as quoted by the state broadcaster LRT.

  • “Our goal is to have a rotation similar to the air policing mission,” the minister added, referring to the regular patrol flights by NATO aircraft in the airspace of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
  • “This principle would not be a one-off thing for several months but would cover all of our calendar months and significantly increase our air defense capabilities,” Anusauskas said.

Last year, the US and its allies in Europe delivered several Patriot batteries to Ukraine as part of efforts to back Kiev during its conflict with Moscow.

The Washington-led bloc has deployed additional forces to Eastern Europe and the Baltic states in recent years, citing Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned last month that the Western alliance “must prepare for a confrontation that could last for decades.”

  • Russia, for its part, cited NATO’s continuing expansion eastward and the bloc’s cooperation with Kiev as one of the root causes of the current conflict.

Russian officials have repeatedly stressed that Moscow views NATO military units near its border as a national security threat.

  • In January, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova warned that the stationing of additional foreign forces in Lithuania “only leads to the escalation of military tensions.”

Source: RT