NATO SUMMIT: Member states ramp up security in Vilnius
NATO countries are taking unprecedented security measures to protect their forthcoming summit in Lithuania, Reuters reported on Saturday. Dozens of world leaders will meet next week in Vilnius, about 150 km from Russia.
Sixteen member countries have sent a total of 1,000 soldiers to provide security for the gathering on 11 and 12 July, with combat aircraft, special units, anti-drone technology and advanced air defence systems deployed.
“It would be extremely irresponsible to leave our airspace unprotected when Joe Biden and the leaders of 40 countries arrive,” said Lithuanian president Gitanas Nauseda.
The host country has tripled its number of border guards, with reinforcements from neighbouring Latvia and Poland. Authorities say they expect “provocations” at the border, including the sudden appearance of military vehicles or large numbers of migrants trying to enter the country.
“It would be extremely irresponsible to leave our airspace unprotected when Joe Biden and the leaders of 40 countries arrive"
German Patriot missile systems have been installed at Vilnius airport. Some are directed towards Kaliningrad, a Russian territory between Poland and Lithuania. Others are aimed towards Belarus, a Russian ally.
This will be the fourth NATO summit since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to attend. He hopes to receive a clear signal that his country will be able to join the alliance when the war is over.
Lithuania is also carrying out checks at its borders with other EU countries as the summit approaches, and public life will be suspended in certain areas of the capital.
© KARL-JOSEF HILDENBRAND/DPA