The US and Lithuania signed an agreement on Monday to bolster their defense partnership by facilitating more arms purchases and improving their military interoperability.
The Reciprocal Defense Procurement deal was inked during a meeting between US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas. It was signed amid Lithuanian concerns about Russia’s recent military buildup at its border with Ukraine.
According to Austin, US and Lithuanian armed forces stand “shoulder to shoulder” against common and evolving threats and adversaries, that the two nations work together “to advance shared interests and values.”
“And today, the United States again stands with Lithuania. And we’ll keep working together to strengthen the Lithuanian armed forces,” he said in a press release.
The American defense secretary also commended the Lithuanian government for its “firm policy” in addressing growing pressure from China and Belarus.
US Supporting Lithuania
In November, US Undersecretary of State Uzra Zeya announced that the country was rejecting attempts by other nations to interfere in Lithuania’s strengthened defense relationship with Taiwan.
Lithuania’s decision to allow the Southeast Asian island to open a de facto embassy in Vilnius has angered China, which said it would take “all necessary measures” to safeguard its national sovereignty.
“We reaffirm our support for our valued NATO and EU partner and ally,” Zeya told Reuters.
The US has also vowed to offer the Baltic nation financial support to cushion any financial losses incurred by increased tensions between Lithuania and China over Taiwan’s sovereignty.
Addressing these tensions, Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis stated earlier this month that his country would “appreciate” stronger EU support amid its dispute with Beijing.