Russian Aggression Prompts Lithuania to Raise Troop Readiness

Russian military activity around the Baltics has escalated over the past three days, prompting Lithuania’s military to place its rapid reaction force on alert status. “Since Saturday, we have observed a rise in the activity of the Russian Federation’s forces in the Kalingrad region as well as in the western part of the Russian Federation,” including air, naval, and land activity, Chief of the Lithuanian Joint Staff Army Brig. Gen. Vilmantas Tamošaitis declared Monday evening on Lithuanian television. Lithuania also released recent surveillance and intercept data on Monday, showing a large naval group accompanied by military aircraft, which was spotted in the Baltic Sea Dec. 6, and on Dec. 7 NATO fighters scrambled three times to intercept both Tu-95 and Tu-22 bombers as well as military transports. NATO also reported intercepts continued on Monday. As a result, Tamošaitis said Lithuania has put its 2,500-strong “rapid response units” on an alert posture. US European Command spokesman Navy Capt. Greg Hicks, deferred to the Lithuanians to comment on the scenario, but echoed NATO critiques of Russian military flights telling Air Force Magazine they “do not help de-escalate the current situation.” The Russian flights often do not use their transponders or file flight plans, which poses risk to civil aviation.