VILNIUS – NATO must maintain a credible deterrence and defense posture, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said after a phone call with Jens Stoltenberg, the Alliance's secretary general, on Wednesday.
“As we seek to find the most appropriate and effective response to the newly emerging challenges, we need to maintain a credible deterrence and defense posture, without losing sight of Russia's aggressive actions that threaten Euro-Atlantic security," he said in a press release.
Nauseda and Stoltenberg discussed security and defense in Lithuania and the Baltic region in preparation for this year's NATO summit, the strengthening of the deterrence against threats in the Baltic region, and recommendations for the NATO2030 strategy.
"The president underlined that, in a changing geopolitical environment, it was particularly important to continue NATO's adaptation – which reinforces the Alliance’s ability to respond quickly and effectively to emerging threats and challenges wherever they arise", his office said.
"The launch of the NATO2030 process will upbuild vitally important transatlantic ties as well as consolidate unity and solidarity among the Allies."
The president told NATO's chief that Lithuania remains committed to meeting the 2 percent of GDP target for defense spending and plans to increase investment in security and defense to 2.5 percent by 2030.
"Lithuania has consistently complied with the requirement to assign 20 percent of its defense budget for military equipment and is actively involved in NATO missions and operations, including in Iraq and Afghanistan," according to the press release.
Stoltenberg tweeted after the call with Nauseda that "Lithuania is a valued Ally, making important contributions to our shared security".
"We discussed the situation in the Baltic Sea region, our NATO2030 initiative & preparations for the NATO Summit this year," he wrote.
Lithuania's intelligence bodies said in their latest annual national threat assessment report that "Russia’s increasing military potential and activity in the Western Military District and Kaliningrad region, as well as its deepening military integration with Belarus, has a negative impact on Lithuania’s military security".
Russia is consistently strengthening its conventional and nuclear capabilities, developing new armaments and conducting large-scale exercises, they said.
Minsk sees its military integration with Russia as its security guarantee. The two countries "conduct combined military exercises to improve interoperability of their armed forces. Russian military industry remains one of the most important sources of modernization of the Belarusian armed forces", according to the report.
Belarus' authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly accused Lithuania and Poland of interfering in Belarus' internal affairs and has called NATO a threat.
Amid mass protests against Lukashenko's rule and vote rigging in last August's presidential election, the authoritarian leader said that NATO and the US represented a military threat to Belarus and ordered the country's key units into full combat readiness. He also ordered the deployment of additional troops on Belarus' western border.