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New defense chief appointed in Lithuania amid Ukraine crisis

  • 2014-07-24
  • From wire reports, VILNIUS

Major General Jonas Vytautas Zukas

Lithuania has appointed a new chief of defense amid the crisis in the Ukraine.

Major General Jonas Vytautas Zukas was appointed to the role during a formal change of command ceremony on Thursday in the Cathedral Square, Vilnius.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite admitted that Zukas had entered the office in difficult times.

"Not far from Lithuania, borders of countries are violated, war is stirred up, innocent people are killed, while invasive objectives are attempted to be turned into a propaganda truth," said the president.

"At this tense time we have to become united and determined to defend what belonged to our ancestors, what belongs to us and what will belong to our children - the land and the freedom of Lithuania." 

The leader of the country emphasised that the new chief of defence would have to deal with many important tasks: an increase in the capacities of independent and collective defence, the airspace security, the manning of military units, preparations of the reserve and the reinforcement of voluntary forces.

During the inauguration ceremony, Grybauskaite administered an oath of allegiance to MG Zukas and passed on the regalia of the Chief of Defence - a Badge of the Chief of Defence, the sceptre and the colours of the Lithuanian Armed Forces.

The president wished the new chief of defence and all Lithuanian soldiers strength, perseverance and iron will to defend the country.

The Chief of Defence of Lithuania is commissioned for a five-year tenure by the president pending an approval of the Seimas from the nominees tabled by the Minister of National Defence.

The newly appointed Chief of Defence Zukas will replace Lieutenant General Arvydas Pocius.