VILNIUS – It was a mistake to talk about military technical matters with "people who have little or no understanding", Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Arvydas Anusauskas says, referring to the situation around the deployment of a German army brigade in Lithuania.
"Probably, it was certainly a mistake to mention military technicalities to people who have little or no understanding," Anusauskas said in an interview with the public radio LRT on Thursday, asked whether he had made a mistake in mentioning ten days as a sufficient time frame for the brigade's arrival.
"Every military unit has a certain level of readiness, how long it takes to move, and in this case this is not a political thesis or agreement, but information of a military nature, and all agreements we have with Germany are still valid. The German side has made it very clear that the infrastructure projects we are developing allow them to increase step by step both their capability and capacity in Lithuania, and to bring all of this up to the brigade level," Anusauskas said.
Representing the ruling conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats, Anusauskas came under fire from both the opposition and his own party when last week he agreed with German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht's position that it was sufficient to put the German brigade assigned to Lithuania on standby for it to arrive in Lithuania within ten days, if needed.
Joining her at the press conference, Anusauskas said such a time frame was sufficient to react to the build-up of military forces at the country's borders, which Ukraine's experience showed.
In response to criticism from his fellow party members, the defense minister said Laurynas Kasciunas, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defense, "in fact did not understand at all what he was talking about when he was talking about me mentioning the 90 days and the comparison with Ukraine".
"In this case, I was not talking about comparing Ukraine and Lithuania, I was talking about how fast intelligence information is delivered and the reaction to that intelligence information, and this is a completely different context," Anusauskas said.
Earlier, Lithuanian officials said they wanted Germany to permanently deploy a brigade of 3,000 to 4,000 troops in Lithuania. And the position was reiterated by Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis on Monday when he pointed out that Lithuania and Germany's agreement this summer was for the German brigade to be deployed in Lithuania, and not on its readiness to come, if needed.
Signed by Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda and German Chancellor Olaf Schulz in June, the joint communique states that "in addition to the current and reinforced enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group already in place, Germany is ready to lead a robust and combat-ready brigade in Lithuania dedicated to deter and defend against Russian aggression".
Initially, led by a permanently deployed Brigade Forward Command Element in Lithuania, this brigade will consist of German combat forces specifically designated for this purpose, potentially augmented by possible multinational contributions.
The aforementioned forward presence command element was deployed in Lithuania in September.