On Friday, President Gitanas Nausėda visited the Lithuanian Air Base in Šiauliai where he participated in a welcome ceremony for the reinforcement of NATO’s air-policing mission.
The NATO air-policing mission was enhanced with four F-16 Fighting Falcon jets sent by the Danish Air Force. The Danish Parliament took the decision on January 9 in response to the difficult security situation on the Ukrainian border.
Four F-16 jets and 80 troops (pilots, technicians, medical personnel, support team, communications, and other specialists) are currently deployed to Lithuania. In addition, the Danish frigate HDMS Peter Willemoes, with a crew of 160, has been dispatched to patrol the Baltic Sea.
“Today we witness a splendid example of allied unity and solidarity. The decision of Denmark to contribute to NATO’s enhanced air-policing mission testifies to the friendly and dependable relations our countries have developed over the last three decades. This is even more important in these testing times. The current security situation in the region, with Russia trying to intimidate and threaten the independent Ukrainian state, is a matter of great concern. Further encroachment on the peaceful countries of the region would be unacceptable. Therefore, keeping the security balance on NATO’s eastern flank and around Ukraine must be our priority,” the President said in his welcome address.
Gitanas Nausėda underlined that Lithuania’s security is closely linked to its membership in NATO. The air-policing mission has played a crucial role ever since the country joined the Alliance. According to the President, Lithuania is committed to the NATO principle of mutual support and is ready to actively contribute to collective defense.
“It is truly inspiring to see our allies – our friends from Denmark– to respond to the first signs of trouble on NATO’s eastern flank. Only last year Lithuania celebrated the centenary of a bilateral diplomatic relationship with Denmark. Our countries are also close security partners. Lithuanian and Danish soldiers have set an example for others by training together and participating in international missions. You strengthen our capabilities when we need it most,” the President said.
The Danish contingent has joined Poland’s – currently the Baltic lead patrol nation – deployment to Lithuania and the reinforcing Belgian contingent in Estonia. The Polish and Belgian deployments now each have four F-16 jets that have been patrolling the Baltic skies since December 2021. The United States also enhanced NATO’s air policing: on January 26, US F-15s landed at an air base in Estonia.
Denmark, with eight rotational deployments, is one of the most active participants in NATO’s Baltic Air Policing. Most recently, its contingents were deployed in September-December of 2019 and September-December of 2021. In January 2022, the Danish Air Force joined the 58th NATO Baltic patrol with additional four F-16 jets. Denmark has provided consistent political and practical support since the establishment of the Lithuanian Armed Forces.
Last updated 2022.01.28 17:15Back