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German brigade should be operational by 2027

The new 5,000-strong Bundeswehr brigade on NATO’s eastern flank in Lithuania is expected to be fully operational by 2027. Defense Minister Pistorius reiterated that he would “defend every inch of alliance territory at all times.”

The NATO partners Germany and Lithuania want to have a new German combat brigade in the Baltic Republic fully operational by 2027. An extensive infrastructure is to be built in Rudninkai near the capital Vilnius and in Rukla near Kaunas. Federal Defense Minister Boris Pistorius and his Lithuanian counterpart Arvydas Anusauskas signed a joint roadmap for this.

Germany offered to station around 5,000 men and women from the Bundeswehr in the country on NATO’s eastern flank. After the new brigade is formally set up in 2025, material and troops are expected to grow by 2026. Two combat troop battalions from Bavaria and North Rhine-Westphalia are to be relocated as the core of the new brigade. The third battalion will be the multinational NATO battle group (eFP battle group), which is already in the country under Germany’s leadership and has rotating personnel. There are also logisticians, medical soldiers, communications experts and administrative staff.

Pistorius emphasized that this was “new territory for the Bundeswehr”. “Never before has the Bundeswehr, Germany, permanently stationed troops outside of Germany with a permanent base of soldiers.” In the past these were always temporary assignments. Anusauskas also spoke of a “historic decision for both Lithuania and Germany” that would significantly strengthen the defense potential.

Infrastructure for German needs

The conditions on site should be such that Bundeswehr members can bring their families with them. The soldiers should find apartments on the open market or in new neighborhoods. Germany also wants to set up one or two Bundeswehr schools and German-speaking childcare facilities locally.

For Lithuania, the stationing of German troops is a desired reassurance of NATO’s obligation to provide assistance. Lithuania borders Belarus, which is an ally of Russia, and the Russian Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad. Between these two runs a narrow land corridor to the west – the so-called Suwalki Gap, over which fighting could break out in the event of an attack.

Pistorius and Anusauskas said Russia’s ruthless war of aggression against Ukraine had radically changed the security situation. They reaffirm the commitment of both states to “defend each other and every inch of alliance territory at all times.”

Uli Hauck, ARD Berlin, tagesschau, December 18, 2023 11:09 a.m

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