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Lithuanian Defense Minister visits US to meet Pentagon chief

by Abbey Fenbert March 4, 2024 5:50 AM 2 min read
Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas rides a Leopard tank at a military training area in Lithuania, Dec. 15, 2023.
Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas rides on a Leopard 2 A6 tank at the Lithuanian military training area Gaiziunai, about 90 kilometers northwest of the capital Vilnius, on Dec. 15, 2023. (Alexander Welscher/dpa via Getty Images)
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Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas traveled to the United States on March 3 ahead of a planned meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry announced.

Security and defense concerns have intensified in the Baltic states since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. With Russian aggression at its doorstep, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have been among Ukraine's staunchest supporters throughout the war.

Anusauskas and Austin will discuss bilateral security cooperation, including the presence of U.S. troops in Lithuania. Military aid to Ukraine will also be on the agenda.

"The focus will also  be on support to Ukraine as U.S. military aid to Ukraine remains critical," the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said.

U.S. aid to Ukraine has been delayed for months amid obstruction from Republican legislators. The lack of funding has translated to battlefield losses, as Ukrainian forces run out of money and supplies.

Lithuania participated in a joint Nordic-Baltic delegation that appealed to Congress on Feb. 8 to approve additional military aid to Kyiv. Delegates left the meeting feeling disappointed by U.S. lawmakers' lack of urgency.

As Congress continues to draw out the funding debate, Russia continues to attack civilian targets in Ukraine. A Russian drone strike on Odesa overnight on March 1-2 killed 12 people, including five children.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis on March 3 called the attack "outrageous murder" and demanded "immediate consequences" for Russia.

"By deliberately killing babies in their sleep, Russia is declaring a clear contempt for any peace agreements, past or future. There must be serious and immediate consequences, not continued impunity," Landsbergis said in a post on X.

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