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Austin Lauds Lithuania's Defense Spending, Modernization

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III thanked Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas for his country's robust defense spending and for modernizing its armed forces, including investing in new capabilities and infrastructure to strengthen NATO's defense posture.

A tank in snow fires a round.
Abrams Exercise
Soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, conduct an M1A3 Abrams live-fire exercise at Camp Herkus, Lithuania, Jan. 14, 2024.
Photo By: Army Sgt. Anthony Ford
VIRIN: 240114-A-HS753-4025C

The two met today at the Pentagon, where Anusauskas was welcomed with an honor cordon. 

Lithuania has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the United States, allies and partners, providing security assistance, training and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, Austin said, noting that Lithuania welcomed over 77,000 Ukrainian refugees into its country. 

Russia's unprovoked war of choice is now into its third year. "I want to thank you for everything that Lithuania has done to stand firm against the Kremlin's assault on Ukraine," Austin said. 

"As we approached Lithuania's Independence Restoration Day, I'm mindful that not long ago, Lithuanians fought bravely for their own freedom. So Lithuanian people understand the dangers of aggression. And they know that freedom can never be taken for granted," he said. 

Soldier peers ahead from a tank turret.
Live-fire Exercise
Soldiers with the 3rd Battalion, 67th Armor Regiment, 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, participate in a combined-arms live-fire exercise in Pabrade, Lithuania, Feb. 19, 2024.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Moses Howard II
VIRIN: 240219-Z-HH865-1060

Independence Restoration Day was first celebrated on March 11, 1990, when Lithuania regained its independence. Now, it's celebrated every March 11. 

"We couldn't ask for a better ally and friend than Lithuania. And I look forward to discussing ways that we can further strengthen transatlantic security and bolster NATO's eastern flank," Austin said. 

Anusauskas said Ukraine must win this war, and U.S. aid is critical to that effort. 

Lithuania spends well over NATO's agreed upon commitment of at least 2% of each nation's gross domestic product on defense, he said. 

"The United States' persistent military presence in Europe remains critical to deter Russia," he added.

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