VILNIUS – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda met with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Berlin on Monday to discuss regional security and the deployment of Germany's brigade in Lithuania.
The two leaders also discussed bilateral cooperation between Lithuania and Germany, regional security and defense issues, further response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine, and the situation in the Middle East, Nauseda's office said in a press release.
Nauseda congratulated Germany on its decision to start stationing its military brigade in Lithuania as early as in 2024.
"The relocation of the German heavy-armored brigade to Lithuania is a milestone in strengthening the security of NATO's eastern flank and ensuring forward defense capabilities," the Lithuanian president said at the meeting.
"Providing all the necessary infrastructure for the deployment of the brigade is a priority objective of the government of Lithuania, and we all share the ambition to make this a success story and an example for other countries in the region," he added.
Vilnius and Berlin started discussing the brigade's deployment in Lithuania to beef up regional security after Russia invaded Ukraine. The brigade's Forward Command Element is currently stationed in Lithuania.
Earlier in November, the German Defense Ministry said the core of the German brigade in Lithuania would consist of two tank battalions, with a third battalion initially made up of the German-led NATO Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group.
"For some time, as you know, we struggled to reach a final decision, but I believe that the contribution of the entire political elite here – of the German political elite, of the German chancellor, of the German president – is really very tangible," Nauseda said in a comment on Monday.
"Now the most important thing, and I emphasized that, is to implement these decisions as swiftly as possible," he added.
Vilnius plans that the bulk of the troops will be deployed in 2026.
In Berlin, Nauseda underlined that Lithuania is rapidly increasing its defense investment, which is set to reach 2.71 percent of GDP in 2024, and aims to be fully prepared for the deployment of the German brigade in 2026.
"I assured (Germany) that Lithuania is ready to do its utmost and implement the necessary infrastructure, first and foremost in the military sense of the word, up to and including 2026," the president said after the meeting.
"It's not a simple task, but we have mobilized both the political will and all the resources," he added.
Nauseda said he asked Steinmeier to ensure a "really coordinated process" from the German side and the swift implementation of the project.
The Lithuanian and German leaders also discussed further response to Russia's aggression in Ukraine.
Nauseda "underlined that Western countries have to ensure and accelerate the delivery of military assistance to Ukraine, to hold the aggressor Russia accountable for its aggression and war crimes, and to expand sanctions against Russia to include companies operating in the fields of nuclear energy, information technology, laser industry, as well as financial institutions", according to the press release.
The Lithuanian leader invited Steinmeier to attend the Three Seas Initiative Summit to be held in Vilnius in the spring of 2024.
"The Three Seas Initiative not only strengthens economic cooperation between the countries of the region, but also promotes the development of infrastructure projects, thus ensuring greater security and helping to redirect the flow of goods and services from East and West to North and South," he said.
Later on Monday, Nauseda was to participate in an informal discussion on the EU's strategic agenda at the invitation of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.