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Chief of Defence departs to meet Belgian counterpart bilaterally, to focus on building NATO defenses in the Baltic region

Chief of Defence departs to meet Belgian counterpart bilaterally, to focus on building NATO...

On March 25 Chief of Defence of Lithuania General Valdemaras Rupšys departs for the Kingdom of Belgium to have a bilateral meeting with Chief of Defence Admiral Michel Hofman. The CHODs are planned to discuss military cooperation, exercises and way ahead, assistance to Ukraine, threats facing the Baltic region, and mutual effort in ensuring security.    

The progress made in developing NATO defence plans is critical for the process of assigning the capabilities needed for their implementation and training with Allied forces deployed in the region.  A close and constant Lithuanian-Belgian defence cooperation in defence area covers air, maritime, land, special operations, cybersecurity, procurement and military qualification improvement. Belgium was the first NATO member to deploy F-16 fighter aircraft to the NATO Air Policing Mission when Lithuania became a member of NATO in 2004. The Belgian Navy commissions capabilities to the Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) and Standing NATO Maritime Groups on a regular basis, it is an active participant of the international operation for historical ordinance disposal in the Baltic Sea, Exercise Open Spirit.  Belgian troops serve in the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group deployed in Rukla since early 2017 alongside German, Czech, Norwegian, Dutch and Luxembourg’s military personnel. In February 2023 Belgium officially joined the 2023 Lithuania-coordinated CRRTs and Mutual Assistance in Cyber project and plans joining the Resilience Work Group led by Lithuania as part of the Cyber Security Initiate.

 The Lithuanian Special Operations Forces are also in a close cooperation with the Belgian Special Forces Group and train in exercises together in Lithuania and Belgium. The CHODs are planned to discuss the proposal put forward for the Lithuanian Special Operations Forces to take the lead of the currently developed Special Operations Component Command in the Baltic region.  Adherence of the Belgian Special Forces Group would enhance the component of deterrence and defensive capabilities.    

 Another significant focus of the meeting will be the assistance to Ukraine, one of Belgium’s priorities voiced for the EU Presidency period. Lithuania plans further consistent assistance to Ukraine with required supplies and training courses, on the national territory and with the Interflex and EUMAM Ukraine missions, as well as by joining in different coalitions.  Lithuania has become responsible for the Demining Coalition in the Ramstein format to support the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces of Ukraine with equipment procurements and training in the areas of humanitarian and military demining.

Photo credit: A.Pliadis