VILNIUS – As Russia continues with its military buildup near Ukraine's border, deterrence, defense and diplomacy are key to the Alliance's security, NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana said during the commemoration of the 5th deployment anniversary of the German-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Lithuania, held in Rukla today.
"NATO's strong deterrence and defense has helped to keep the peace for over 70 years. The same strong deterrence and defense combined with dialogue and diplomacy is key to keeping our nations safe in a more contested world as we again face Russia's aggressive rhetoric and pressure," he said.
Moscow now has over 100,000 troops near Ukraine's borders but denies plans to invade its neighbor. Russia also some of its forces deployed in Belarus where joint army drills are set to start this week.
Russia wants to prevent countries like Ukraine and Georgia from joining NATO and demands that the Alliance reduced its deployed forces in Eastern Europe.
The Alliance, however, says he does not negotiate its fundamental principles, like the defense of NATO allies or its open-door policy.
SYMBOLIZES NATO SPIRIT
The 2017 decision to deploy the German-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion-size Battle Group in Lithuania was made in response to Russia's action in Ukraine. The group now has around 1,200 troops on a six-month rotational basis.
To deter Russia, similar groups were also deployed in Estonia, Latvia and Poland.
This battle group "symbolizes everything NATO stands for", Geoana said, adding that people and nations across the great Alliance are serving as one, truly being a symbol of transatlantic solidarity and determination.
The importance of NATO's unity was also highlighted by Chairman of the NATO Military Committee Admiral Rob Bauer, saying that "you symbolize the spirit of our Alliance".
The battle group in Lithuania includes 500 German troops, with Berlin having already decided to send several hundred more amid growing tensions in the region.
German Ambassador to Lithuania Matthias Sonn says Berlin made the decision to ensure security not only for Lithuania but for the whole of Europe.
"We stand with NATO resiliently and united for the security of us all," he said.