COLOGNE, Germany — The United States and Lithuania have signed a defense-cooperation agreement aimed at beefing up bilateral training and information sharing against the backdrop of a resurgent Russia.
Kathryn Wheelbarger, the U.S. acting assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, and Robertas Sampronas, the Lithuanian Defence Ministry’s policy director, signed the pact on Tuesday, the Pentagon announced.
The “road map” describes five broad policy objectives for the two countries between 2019 and 2024: strengthening cooperation in training, exercises and exchanges; deterrence in the Baltic Sea region, including improved maritime domain awareness; intelligence sharing; cooperation in multinational operations; and cyber defense.
The plan to sign defense-cooperation agreements with the three Baltic states stems from the U.S.-Baltic Strategic Dialogue in November 2018. Estonia and Latvia are working with Pentagon officials to sign similar agreements.
According to the Defense Department, the United States has invested almost $80 million for defense-security cooperation in Lithuania since 2014, while Lithuania has bought U.S. defense articles worth $200 million.
The Baltic states, which are part of NATO, are especially attuned to the possibility of Russia staging a Crimea-style operation in their countries to challenge their territorial integrity.
Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News.