Seven NATO aircraft took to the Baltic states’ skies on March 17 for a one-day regular drill over Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to demonstrate the trans-Atlantic alliance’s “commitment to their collective security”, reports AFP. NATO’s Germany-based Air Command said that it would also improve working relations among alliance members’ air forces. Russia’s ambassador to NATO headquarters in Brussels, Dmitry Rogozin, complained that “This issue arouses concern in Russia, so we will demand a detailed report on the structure of the forces [seven planes] involved in the exercise, its goal, scenario, and who will be declared the enemy.” Lithuania’s Defense Minister Rasa Jukneviciene contrasted the NATO drill with war games last September near the Baltic states’ borders by Russia and Belarus. That exercise involved aggressive, simulated nuclear strikes on the Baltics and Poland, exercises including more than 12,000 troops. The NATO alliance’s chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Moscow had sent the “wrong signal by conducting military exercises that rehearse the invasion of a smaller NATO member.”
The EU has declared 2010 the year for combating poverty and social exclusion, reports ELTA. President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite underlined that the deepening social exclusion posed a challenge not only to the state, but also to society. The contribution of active and civic-minded people was very important and priceless when addressing the most painful problems faced by society. The best initiatives to fight poverty and social exclusion were introduced at a meeting on the issue as Deimante Zebrauskaite, head of the food aid charity Maisto Bankas, singers Veronika Pavilioniene and Gabrielius Liaudanskas-Svaras received awards for their charity work.