Defense Min. wants to extend Dutch contribution to NATO mission in Lithuania

Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and Commander Tom Middendorp visit Dutch soldiers on NATO mission in Lithuania, 10 Apr 2017
Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert and Commander Tom Middendorp visit Dutch soldiers on NATO mission in Lithuania, 10 Apr 2017. Photo: Ministry of Defense

Defense Minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert wants to keep Dutch soldiers in Lithuania for longer, she said during a visit to the soldiers there. Officially the mission ends at the end of this year, but she thinks the Dutch aid will be needed for longer, RTL Nieuws reports.

"We will stay here for as long as die situation requires it, but we will also look at what other allies can do", Hennis said, according to the broadcaster. "Huge investments are being made here."

About 270 Dutch soldiers are currently in Lithuania for "deterrence and reassurance". "The countries neighboring Russia feel the threat every day.", Hennis said. "With the NATO presence at the scene we protect the treaty area, we show our solidarity and we put the Lithuanians at ease."

NATO decided in July last year to start a mission in the Baltic states due to the Russians' "worrying attitude. NATO troops are also stationed in Estonia, Latvia nd Poland. And four Dutch F-16's are protecting the airspace in Lithuania until the end of this month.

The mission in Lithuania is headed by the Germans and includes German, Dutch, Belgium, Norwegian, Luxembourg and Lithuanian troops. 

The Lithuanian Minster of Defense would also rather see the NATO mission extended. Stopping it "would be a very bad signal to the Russians", he said. 

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