Germany has confirmed it is sending Leopard 2 tanks to Lithuania as part of NATO plans to reinforce the Baltic states. But the presence is largely symbolic, since Russia is still militarily superior in the region.
Protecting Lithuania from Russia is to be Germany’s responsibility, according to the new NATO defense plans that emerged at this week’s summit in Brussels. The German Defense Ministry showed on Wednesday evening just how seriously it is taking this task, confirming to the DPA news agency that next year it will be sending Leopard 2 tanks to the Baltic country’s Russian border in addition to the 650 soldiers it had already promised – though it would not clarify how many.
The move is part of NATO’s wider plan to protect its Baltic members, who have all shown concern about Russian ambitions following the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the subsequent war in eastern Ukraine.
A NATO battalion of around 1,000 soldiers will be stationed in Lithuania as of June next year, and will then be rotated every six months. Around 450 to 650 of these troops are to be supplied by the Bundeswehr, while the others will come from France, Belgium and Croatia. German media reported that the combat-trained unit will also be equipped with tanks, armored vehicles, snipers, and engineers.