“Standing resolutely at the side of the Baltic states”

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Federal Chancellor visits the Baltic “Standing resolutely at the side of the Baltic states”

Germany is resolute in its determination to defend every last square centimetre of NATO territory. “The security of our Baltic allies is our security too,” said Federal Chancellor Scholz at a meeting of Baltic heads of state and government in Latvia.

The photo shows Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nausėda.

The meeting between Federal Chancellor Scholz (l.) and Lithuanian President Nausėda brought together close friends and productive partners.

Photo: Federal Government/Bergmann

The second stop on the Federal Chancellor’s itinerary was in Lithuania. In the capital Riga, he first met with the Lithuanian Prime Minister Evika Siliņa, before the two leaders joined the Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas for a meeting of the “B3” group of Baltic states. The three countries joined the EU and NATO almost exactly 20 years ago. “Today we are partners in the European Union and allies in NATO, and, above all, we are good friends,” said Scholz at the press conference after the talks.

Reinforcing NATO’s eastern border

In his remarks, Scholz said Russia had miscalculated. Instead of splitting Europe and weakening NATO, Russia’s illegal war had strengthened European and NATO unity. “The security of our Baltic allies is our security, too,” said the Federal Chancellor. Germany was resolute in its determination to defend every last square centimetre of NATO territory, as “An attack on you would be an attack on us. We cannot let that happen,” Scholz said.

The security situation in the Baltic remained tense, Scholz said, “Which is why Germany and other allies agreed two years ago to deploy more forces in the Baltic to substantially reinforce NATO’s eastern border.” Germany is carrying out air policing over Estonia and will also cover Lithuania this year. The Federal Armed Forces will also station a full brigade in Lithuania, he said.

Scholz said Germany had responded robustly to the epochal change which Putin triggered by invading Ukraine. He went on to say that the Bundeswehr were being geared towards defending Central and North-Eastern Europe. “Almost 35,000 German military personnel stand ready to render swift assistance to our allies at short notice,” the Federal Chancellor said.

Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Ukraine

The talks also focused on how to provide better support to Ukraine in the face of continuing urgent shortages of munitions and air defences. “Germany, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia are resolved to extend their support for Ukraine,” the Federal Chancellor stressed, adding that these efforts include the initiative to provide more air defences to Ukraine. Scholz also called for the pressure of sanctions on Russia to be stepped up.

The photo shows Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Lithuanian Primer Minister Evika Siliņa.

In Riga, Scholz met all three leaders of Baltic state governments: Ingrida Šimonytė, Evika Siliņa and Kaja Kallas.

Photo: Federal Government/Bergmann

First stop in Lithuania

Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz began his trip with a morning visit to Pabradė in Lithuania, where he met President Gitanas Nausėda for talks at the military training area. Next the Federal Chancellor visited Bundeswehr personnel who are currently in the area for a NATO exercise.

Germany is investing huge sums in expanding its defence capabilities in order to fulfil its joint defence responsibilities as a NATO member. This was the purpose of the special scheme for the Bundeswehr worth 100 billion euros, Scholz said in Lithuania. He also pledged that Germany would continue to invest 2 percent of its GDP in defence over the long term.

The three pillars of German involvement on the ground

The Federal Chancellor outlined the three pillars of German involvement on the ground:

  • Germany has led the Enhanced Forward Presence multinational battlegroup since 2017. It forms part of NATO’s mutual support initiative aimed at deterring any threat to Alliance territory. The group comprises 1,600 personnel from 6 countries.
  • Germany is reinforcing NATO’s eastern border by permanently stationing Tank Brigade 45 in Lithuania, which is expected to be in full operational readiness by the end of 2027. The first stages of the deployment have already been completed.
  • The Bundeswehr demonstrated its capabilities during the QUADRIGA 2024 exercises, for Germany and for NATO. It forms part of the NATO Steadfast Defender exercises, the largest defence exercises carried out by the alliance since the end of the Cold War.

Turning to Russia’s ongoing brutal war in Ukraine, the Federal Chancellor praised the commitment of the Baltic states in supporting the country, while appealing at the same time to all European partners to do more. He pointed to the importance of continued close coordination and collaboration between NATO allies, and reaffirmed that “NATO will not be party to this conflict itself.”

Germany and the three Baltic states are strong partners within the European Union and close NATO allies. The Federal Chancellor’s visit was also an opportunity to discuss the current security situation on NATO’s eastern border, to agree further support for Ukraine in European and international contexts, and to prepare for the NATO summit in Washington in July.