By DoD News
By Jim Garamone
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has “rocked the foundations of Europe and the rules-based order,” Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas told Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III at a Pentagon meeting Thursday.
Lithuania is a NATO front-line state that has been steadfast in its support for Ukraine as the Russian invasion of that country enters its 11th month.
Austin said this is a crucial time for European security and Russian forces are showing deliberate cruelty against civilians with attacks on civilian infrastructure. “But [the] Ukrainian people have responded with the incredible courage that the world now knows so well,” the secretary said. “The United States and our allies and our partners are deeply committed to supporting Ukraine as it resists Russia’s aggression and defends its right to exist.”
Lithuania, one of the Baltic states also came under the sway of the Soviet Union as part of the Hitler-Stalin Pact in 1939. The United States never recognized the Soviet Union’s illegal occupation of the Baltic Republics.
“We’re grateful to Lithuania and our other allies for your important contributions to Ukraine self-defense,” Austin said. “We can all see the difference that that’s making on the ground.”
Lithuania is providing equipment and training for Ukrainian forces. The country is also modernizing its own forces and Anusauskas announced his country has just contracted for six High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.
Finally, Austin thanked the Lithuanian defense minister for his country’s support for U.S. rotational troops based in the nation. “The United States remains committed to a persistent rotational force presence in Lithuania,” he said.
Anusauskas stressed the need for unity in opposition to Russia. “It is important to maintain our union and solidarity in the face of Russia[‘s] brutal invasion,” he said.
Anusauskas thanked Austin for the decision to continue rotational deployments of American troops to his country. “We are happy to see U.S. boots on Lithuanian soil,” he said.
Lithuania is hosting the NATO Summit next year.