VILNIUS - Russia’s threat cannot be downplayed, despite Moscow’s huge losses in Ukraine, Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda has said on the sidelines of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) summit hosted by Riga on Monday.
“Russia remains a huge threat and it would be a big mistake to think that, when using its military potential in Ukraine, Russia bleeds dry and becomes weaker. It’s true that they probably need to recover in tactical terms but in strategic terms, it would certainly be wrong to claim that Russia is losing its sting and is no longer able of posing a threat to neighboring countries,” he told reporters in Riga.
The Lithuanian leader stressed that the region’s countries should be ready for any scenarios and should create a deterrence effect no-one would want to test and question.
Nauseda also pointed out that Sweden’s and Finland’s accession to NATO would improve the security situation in the Baltic Sea region but, as such, would not resolve all security issues.
“Therefore the implementation of Madrid Summit decisions, strengthening of NATO forward defense in the Baltic region and building up of air defense capabilities comprise the most effective way to deter Russia,” he stressed.
Nauseda also said that the Joint Expeditionary Force, which coordinates and complements NATO’s efforts, is an important factor of security and stability in Northern Europe and the Baltic region.
He stressed the need to further step up military cooperation within the framework of the Joint Expeditionary Force and in particular to hold joint exercises of JEF members in the Baltic Sea and the High North regions.
The JEF, whose concept was first conceived by the United Kingdom in 2012, consists of maritime, air and land capabilities contributed by ten Northern European partners, including Lithuania.