Germany and Lithuania Sign Historic Agreement for Permanent Bundeswehr Deployment in Lithuania

Germany intends to deploy around 5,000 Bundeswehr personnel in Lithuania
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  • 07:45 AM, December 19, 2023
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Germany and Lithuania Sign Historic Agreement for Permanent Bundeswehr Deployment in Lithuania
Lithuanian and German Defense Ministers Arvydas Anusauskas and Boris Pistorius sign agreement for deployment of Bundeswehr brigade in Lithuania

German and Lithuanian defense ministers, Boris Pistorius and Arvydas Anušauskas, signed a historic agreement in Vilnius on December 18, laying the foundation for the first-ever permanent deployment of a Bundeswehr brigade in Lithuania to strengthen NATO's eastern flank and deter potential Russian aggression.

The decision to station approximately 5,000 Bundeswehr personnel in Lithuania by 2025 underscores Germany's commitment to solidarity with its NATO allies and the defense of alliance territory. This initiative is a response to the evolving security landscape triggered by Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine, and it represents a pivotal moment in German security policy.

Defense Minister Boris Pistorius, who had announced the brigade deployment in June 2023, emphasized the significance of assuming leadership responsibility within the alliance and on NATO's eastern flank. The signing of the roadmap follows discussions between Pistorius and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda.

The Lithuania Brigade, comprising around 4,800 soldiers and 200 civilian Bundeswehr employees, will be stationed in Rūdninkai and Rukla, strategically located near Vilnius and Kaunas. The decree for stationing is expected to be signed later this year, with an advance command for brigade formation commencing in the second quarter of 2024. By the end of 2024, a formation staff is projected to be in place, and the Lithuanian Brigade is scheduled for official deployment in 2025, initiating training and exercise activities.

The brigade's full operational capability is anticipated by the end of 2027, supported by military and civil infrastructure provided by Lithuania. The Lithuanian Brigade is designed as a heavy combat brigade under the leadership of the Army's Division 2025, encompassing three combat units: the 122nd Panzergrenadier Battalion from Oberviechtach, Bavaria; the 203rd Panzergrenadier Battalion from Augustdorf, North Rhine-Westphalia; and a multinational battalion continuing the eFP-enhanced forward presence-Battlegroup.

In addition to combat, command, and operational support associations and units, the Bundeswehr administration will establish its own foreign service office. To make service in Lithuania attractive for soldiers and their families, plans include apartments for accompanying family members, as well as childcare and school facilities in Kaunas and Vilnius.

The deployment aims to support Lithuania's security in the aftermath of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, with both defense ministers stressing their commitment to defending NATO territory in accordance with Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. The treaty declares that an armed attack on any NATO member is an attack against all, underscoring the collective defense principle of the alliance.

The roadmap details the deployment of combat troop battalions from Bavaria and North Rhine Westphalia, forming the core of the Lithuania brigade. A third battalion will be a multinational NATO battle unit, part of the alliance's Enhanced Forward Presence force, reinforcing Lithuania's border with the Russian Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad and neighboring Belarus. Analysts view the Suwalki Gap, situated between Lithuania and Kaliningrad, as a potential flashpoint in any confrontation between Russia and NATO, highlighting the strategic importance of the stationed brigade.