Lithuania wants NATO to expand Baltic battalions into brigades

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Norwegian troops for NATO eFP battle group reinforcement arrive in Kaunas, Lithuania February 27, 2022. REUTERS/Janis Laizans/File Photo

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VILNIUS, April 11 (Reuters) - Lithuania wants the NATO battalions in the Baltic countries to be expanded into brigades, the country's defence ministry said on Monday.

A brigade consists of several battalions of troops.

Lithuania and other Baltic states have been consistently calling for more troops in their region and the whole eastern NATO flank, since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.

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"Lithuania, together with other countries on the eastern flank of NATO, is seeking to strengthen the battle groups of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence into forward presence brigades," Defence Minister Arvydas Anusauskas was quoted as saying.

Anusauskas, who did not state the expected size of the brigades, said decisions on reshaping the forces will be taken at a NATO summit in Madrid in June.

The alliance has deployed four multinational battalions in 2017 of about 1,000 troops each in the three Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania as well as Poland, in response to Russia annexing Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014.

The three battalions in the Baltics were expanded this year following the invasion, which Moscow calls a "special operation." The battle group in Lithuania now consists of 1,600 troops, defence ministry said.

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Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius, editing by Terje Solsvik and Tomasz Janowski

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