Lithuanian authorities stress that the exercises are defensive in nature and are not directed against any of the neighbors
U.S. troops and tanks will arrive in Lithuania on Friday and will be stationed near the border with Belarus within two months.
On Wednesday evening, Lithuania announced that U.S. troops would be moved from Poland to conduct pre-planned military exercises.
The exercises are “defensive in nature and are not directed against any of the neighbors, including Belarus,” the Lithuanian authorities said in a statement.
However, the troops will arrive earlier and stay in Lithuania longer than indicated before the protests in Belarus.
A spokesman for the Lithuanian army said the mission, which starts on Friday and runs until November, will involve 500 U.S. troops and 40 vehicles, such as Abrams tanks and Bradley armored personnel carriers.
On July 29, Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis told the BNS news agency that in September the United States will send a contingent of 300 to 1,000 troops to the country for the two-week exercise, which is due to begin in the middle of the month.
Karoblis repeated this information in an interview with public radio LRT on August 4.
The Lithuanian Defense Ministry has not yet commented.
According to the representative of the Lithuanian army, up to 1,000 troops and warplanes from France, Italy, Germany, Poland and other countries will also take part in the annual exercises, which will take place from September 14 to 25.
The Agency did not report any plans to host these forces in Lithuania after 25 September.
Earlier this month, Karoblis said there was a real danger of Sending Russian troops to Belarus.