US Vice president Pence met with the Presidents of the Baltic States
Lithuania’s President Dalia Grybauskaitė attended the meeting of the Baltic states’ presidents and U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. The meeting took place in Tallinn, Estonia, and focused on the enhancement of regional security and defense cooperation between the Baltic states and the U.S.
President Dalia Grybauskaitė underscored that a long-term engagement of the U.S. in ensuring security for the Baltic states was vitally important. The role of the most powerful NATO ally is key in seeking regional solutions for air defense while continuous presence of the U.S. troops and military equipment in the Baltic states is the strongest deterrence measure.
With the region encountering military and hybrid threats, the United States of America is unwavering in implementing its defense related commitments. Patriot system deployed in Lithuania for air defense drills, NATO’s air policing mission enhanced with American fighters, American navy ships coming to the Baltic Sea, and increased funding for the European Reassurance Initiative make a solid contribution to the security of the Baltic states, Europe and entire Alliance.
A joint response to hybrid threats was discussed at the meeting. According to the President, cyber-attacks targeting Western democracies pose a rising threat for international security. European countries and the U.S. have already suffered large-scale cyber-attacks and data breaches. Last year, almost 50 thousand cyber incidents were also recorded in Lithuania. Therefore, rapid response and consolidated allies’ capabilities are needed in the cyberspace as well.
The heads of states also discussed energy cooperation between the Baltic countries and the U.S. According to Dalia Grybauskaitė, active role of the U.S. in the energy sector of the region gains strategic importance. U.S. decision on the sanctions against Russia that equally apply to energy projects is a firm signal that the Kremlin’s attempts to use its situation in the energy sector for manipulations and interference into the policy of other countries will not be tolerated. The U.S. also helps ensuring the diversification of energy sources in the region – the first American liquefied natural gas will reach Lithuania’s LNG terminal and through it other Baltic countries already in August.
In the meeting with the U.S. Vice President, Dalia Grybauskaitė underscored that a firm stance of the U.S. demonstrated in relation to the Kremlin’s geopolitical energy projects was highly significant while encountering a new threat − an unsafe Astravyets Nuclear Power Plant under construction near the border with NATO as it may be used as unconventional weapon.
Dalia Grybauskaitė, the leaders of the Baltic states, and the U.S. Vice President discussed a run-up to the next year’s NATO summit. According to the President, it is necessary to ensure a more rapid decision-making in the Alliance, prepare specific measures to prevent possible military isolation of the Baltic states, and have continuously updated defense planning with attributed military capabilities.