Russia’s ability to carry out provocations in the region is limited due to the war in Ukraine, Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said on Thursday.
“As for Russia’s preparations in our region, everybody notices that Russia has allocated its entire land force potential to Ukraine, moving it to the front,” Anusauskas told the Ziniu Radijas radio station.
“It has other forces in our vicinity: aviation, missiles, tactical nuclear weapons and the navy, but it lacks a significant part of the land force potential. With these remote means, it cannot fully carry out any provocations. This is a fact,” he said.
The minister’s comment followed this week’s publication by the German newspaper Bild of a scenario of a military exercise in which the German armed forces are preparing for a hybrid Russian attack on NATO’s eastern flank.
The plan outlines a detailed scenario for a potential military conflict, starting with Russia beginning a new wave of mobilizations by calling up an additional 200,000 recruits in February, then continuing to attack Ukraine, achieving victories, and launching a hybrid war against the Baltic countries toward the summer. Under this scenario, clashes would occur and the situation would escalate.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky reiterated during his visit to Vilnius last week that Moscow’s next target could be the Baltic states if it defeats Ukraine.
“The key to getting out of this situation is to increase the military defense potential of each border country,” said Anusauskas.
According to the minister, the likelihood that American-made F-16 fighter jets will start defending Ukraine’s skies this year is very high.
“Ukrainians will have significantly greater capabilities to defend themselves against cruise missiles, against aviation near the front, pushing it further away from the front,” he said.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Wednesday said his country’s priority for 2024 is to gain control over its skies.
Various NATO countries are currently training Ukrainian pilots on American-made F-16 fighter jets. Denmark said earlier this month it would transfer 19 F-16s to Ukraine in the second quarter of this year.
Washington had previously been reluctant to allow the jet transfers, fearing that it would make the US a direct participant in Moscow’s war in Ukraine.
(Reproduction of BNS information in mass media and other websites without written consent of BNS is prohibited.)