Reuters news agency reports today that the United States deployed a battery of Patriot missiles in Lithuania to be used in NATO training exercises. According to the report, this is the first time the advanced defense system has been brought to the Baltic States. A Lithuanian defense ministry spokeswoman told Reuters that the missile system was brought to the Siauliai military airbase on Monday, ahead of the Tobruk Legacy exercise, and will be withdrawn when the exercise ends on July 22.
The NATO exercise takes place ahead of the large-scale Zapad 2017 exercise by Russia and Belarus which NATO officials believe could bring more than 100,000 troops to the borders of Poland and the three Baltic NATO allies: Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Since the Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014, the United States has deployed detachments of troops, which have been augmented by four NATO battle groups of more than 1,000 soldiers. Speaking to Reuters, Lithuania’s Defense Minister Raimondas Karoblis said, “The deployment of Patriots is important because it demonstrates that such moves are no longer a taboo in the region. It proves that the missiles can be brought to wherever they are needed, which is very important.”
Reuters report found here.