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Multinational NATO Battalion in Lithuania Ready for Drills

© REUTERS / Ints KalninsLithuanian troops along with the other troops from 11 NATO nations take part in the exercise in urban warfare during Iron Sword exercise in the mock town near Pabrade, Lithuania, December 2, 2016.
Lithuanian troops along with the other troops from 11 NATO nations take part in the exercise in urban warfare during Iron Sword exercise in the mock town near Pabrade, Lithuania, December 2, 2016. - Sputnik International
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A multinational NATO battalion in Lithuania is prepared for drills after Germany's military equipment arrived in the country on Friday, Lithuania's National Defense Ministry said.

VILNIUS (Sputnik) — The equipment will be transferred to the Rukla Garrison of the Lithuanian Armed Forces and the first drills are expected to take place in March, the ministry added.

"After Germany's main military equipment included in the multinational NATO battalion in Lithuania arrived on Friday, the battalion is ready to start training. Among the equipment that arrived there are 20 Marder IFVs [Infantry fighting vehicle], the Dachs engineering tank, the Bergepanzer armored recovery vehicle and five Leopard 2 tanks, as well as the Biber armored bridgelayer," the ministry said in a statement.

Members of the U.S. Army of the Pennsylvania National Guard unload equipment as they arrive at a airport in Vilnius, Lithuania, Sunday, June 5, 2016. - Sputnik International
Iron Wolf: NATO Kicks Off Drills With Over 5,000 Troops in Lithuania
In 2017, the NATO battalion stationed in Lithuania will comprise troops from Germany, Norway, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg, while, in 2018, France and Croatia will contribute their forces. The total number will make up about 1,200 servicemen.

Germany has sent about 200 military vehicles, including 30 tanks along with 450 soldiers to Lithuania, where Belgian and a part of Dutch troops have already been stationed. Another part of Dutch troops will arrive in March, while Norwegian troops are expected to arrive in May.

In 2016, NATO decided to deploy additional troops to the Baltic States and Poland during July's summit in Warsaw, citing the states' vulnerability to the alleged threat of Russian aggression after Crimea rejoined Russia in 2014. Moscow has repeatedly criticized the increased presence of the Alliance’s troops and military facilities near Russian borders.

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