23:39 GMT +317 June 2019
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    NASAMS

    Lithuania Wants New Missile Shield to Defend Against 'Russian Aggression'

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    Citing "Russian aggression," the Baltic nation is looking to Norway to bolster NATO defenses.

    Last week, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) announced formal plans to deploy four new troop battalions to the Baltic, totaling roughly 4,000 soldiers.

    "With these four battle groups, we are not talking exclusively about a training presence. This force is to serve as a deterrent and if necessary as a fighting force," NATO Military Committee Chairman Petr Pavel said, as quoted by the Wall Street Journal.

    "The rules will be different."

    This dramatic military boost, however, is not enough to satisfy the Lithuanian government. On Monday, Vilnius announced plans to spend millions on new NASAMS medium-range air defense systems from Norway.

    "We plan to spend a bit more than 100 million euros ($112 million)," Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas told the Baltic News Service.

    If deployed, the systems would be the first air defense shield of its kind deployed in the Baltic region, with Lithuania currently operating only short-range varieties. The NASAMS features a range of 25 miles.

    According to retired colonel Ignas Stankovicius, the improved systems are necessary to close the country’s defense gap.

    "The lack of air defense systems increase the likelihood of a successful snap attack with limited forces," he said. "Our military power is important for deterrence."

    The Baltic nations and NATO have justified military expansion by citing a phantom threat of Russian invasion.

    "On the one hand, it is a wish to demonstrate the strength of NATO troops; on the other hand, that means nothing else but an attempt to blackmail our country and to involve our country in the arms race. In other words, a new round of the Cold War. We remember how it ended for the Soviet Union," deputy head of the Russian State Duma Committee for Security and Anti-Corruption Dmitry Gorovtsov told RIA Novosti.

    "That is not the first statement and not the first attempt to boost NATO troops near the Russian borders. The statements that these steps allegedly do not jeopardize our country are the favorite US policy of double standards. There is no truth in that."

    The Lithuanian government has allocated 575 million euros on defense this year. The Defense Ministry’s budget will increase to 725 million euros next year.

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    Tags:
    NATO buildup, russian aggression, NATO, Dmitry Gorovtsov, Ignas Stankovicius, Juozas Olekas, Petr Pavel, Norway, Russia, Baltic Region, Lithuania
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