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Dutch to deploy Patriot air defence unit to Lithuania

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Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday that the Netherlands will temporarily deploy Patriot missile systems to Lithuania, as the Baltics seek NATO allies to rotate air defence capabilities to the region.

“Dutch armed forces are currently making preparations for a patriot air defence unit to conduct an exercise in Lithuania this summer,” Rutte told reporters in Vilnius, alongside Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda.

“Lithuania’s borders are EU and NATO borders and that makes them our borders too… and we will defend them,” Rutte said.

Nauseda said he welcomed the decision, adding: “This is an important step in the implementation of the rotational air defence model in the Baltic Sea region”.

Lithuania’s defence ministry said earlier that the deployment would last several weeks.

Last year, NATO allies agreed on a plan to rotate ground-based air defence systems on a short-term basis to the eastern flank as part of efforts to deter Russia.

Lithuania hopes the Dutch deployment will lead other NATO members to do the same, leaving little to no gaps when there would be no substantial air defence capabilities in the Baltics.

“We must all remember that the Baltic Sea region and the entire eastern flank of NATO are the Alliance’s front line of defence,” Nauseda said.

The Lithuanian president also gave a nod to Rutte’s candidacy to the post of NATO secretary general, saying he understands the region.

A total of 250 Dutch troops are already part of the German-led NATO battlegroup based in Lithuania.

The country’s fighter jets also participate in the alliance’s Baltic air policing mission.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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