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Lithuania in NATO: Strengthening Peace and Co-creating Global Security

Lithuania in NATO: Strengthening Peace and Co-creating Global Security

The 29th of March marks 20 years since Lithuania’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the world’s largest military alliance. By joining NATO in 2004, Lithuania became a staunch and important ally that continuously strengthens its own defence capabilities while actively contributing to Allied, European, and global security. Today, Lithuania is one of the 32 NATO member states, with 89% residents proud to be part of the Alliance.

In her greeting to the people of Lithuania, Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė stated: “Lithuania’s 20th anniversary of NATO membership is a tremendous achievement and a privilege for our country to build prosperity on the foundation of freedom, peace, and security. It is only under a secure sky that democracy can thrive, civil society grow and prosper, and a nation share its individuality with the world. Today, we have all this, and much of our success is a credit to our membership in the strongest defence alliance, which has been pursued with purpose and perseverance by countless people, leaders and diplomats dedicated to the country.

This privilege, unfortunately absent in the besieged Ukraine defending itself, the free world, and its values, still doesn’t turn security into a given, reminding us that it is we ourselves that bare the duty for a secure tomorrow. This responsibility falls on each of us as citizens and together as a society. Our Ukrainian brothers and sisters remind us every day of the strength that lies in unity and the will to defend ourselves. Let us build and nourish this strength, which, alongside NATO’s principle of unity – ‘one for all, and all for one’- is the strongest, most unshakeable foundation of our security.”

Lithuanians are staunch supporters of NATO

According to a recent survey conducted by the Ministry of National Defence, as many as 80% of respondents (2% more than a year ago) trust the Lithuanian Armed Forces. This is the highest public rating since 2013. Additionally, 73% of respondents are in favour of maintaining or increasing the current 2.77% of GDP funding for defence. The positive attitude towards the presence of NATO allied forces in Lithuania is getting stronger as well, with 91% of respondents expressing support for it. Overall, 89% of respondents support Lithuania’s NATO membership. 76% of respondents support providing military support to Ukraine.

NATO presence in Lithuania

Lithuania’s NATO membership ensures its safety and security despite Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine. This conflict highlights the strategic importance of the Allied presence on NATO’s eastern flank. 

In 2017, the Alliance stationed a multinational Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battalion-sized battle group in Lithuania, which unambiguously demonstrates NATO’s solidarity, determination, and ability to act by triggering an immediate Allied response to any aggression.

The eFP battalion in Lithuania is led by Germany. More than 18,000 Allied troops from nine NATO countries have already trained in Lithuania in biannual rotations. Along with the eFP battle groups in Estonia, Latvia and Poland, led by the United Kingdom, Canada, and the US respectively, the eFP battalion in Lithuania forms a robust and combat-ready military presence that demonstrates the strength of the transatlantic bond.

Lithuanian skies are protected by NATO’s Baltic Air Policing Mission. It involves continuous presence – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – of fighter aircraft and crews, which are ready to react quickly to possible airspace violations. Since the start of the mission in 2004, 14 NATO member states have provided 34 rotations of air capabilities to patrol the Baltic airspace. In turn, Lithuania is fully prepared to provide all the necessary host nation support for the deployed air contingents to maintain permanent readiness and deter trespassers.

The NATO Force Integration Unit in Lithuania is responsible for the deployment of NATO troops in Lithuania, and representatives of 13 NATO states currently work in the Unit.

Photo by Alfredas Pliadis

Since 2019, the United States, the world’s strongest military power, has been stationing battalion-size army units in Lithuania. American troops rotate every 9 months in Lithuania. The eighth consecutive heel-to-toe rotation of U.S. forces in Lithuania started in September 2023. The US battalion, which has been rotating in Lithuania continuously since Autumn 2019, will remain stationed in the country for the upcoming years. This is a clear signal that the United States is fully committed to its NATO allies.

German Brigade Deployment in Lithuania

At the end of 2023, the Minister of National Defence, Arvydas Anušauskas, and the German Minister of Defence, Boris Pistorius, formally inked the Lithuanian-German Action Plan. This plan outlines the deployment of a heavy brigade from Germany, comprising of three manoeuvre battalions and comprehensive support units. The majority of the brigade will be stationed at the Rūdnininkai military training ground, with additional units deployed in Rukla and other strategic locations across Lithuania. Soldiers and their families will be based in Vilnius and Kaunas, ensuring seamless integration into Lithuanian society with access to essential services.

Lithuania’s NATO Commitments

Since becoming a member of NATO in 2004, Lithuania has been a staunch contributor to collective defence efforts. Its involvement spans various international missions and operations, including deployments in the Balkans, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Currently, Lithuanian troops are actively engaged in 10 international operations and European Union training missions. Furthermore, Lithuania hosts the NATO Energy Security Centre of Excellence, demonstrating its commitment to enhancing operational energy security within the Alliance.

In line with its membership obligations, Lithuania continues to allocate significant resources towards national defence. The Ministry of National Defence receives substantial funding, with the budget set to exceed EUR 2 billion, representing 2.77% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). This robust financial commitment underscores Lithuania’s dedication to strengthening its defence capabilities and fulfilling its responsibilities within NATO.

Supporting Ukraine

Photo by Laima Penek

Since the outset of Russia’s full-scale military invasion in Ukraine, Lithuania has steadfastly supported Ukraine. Today, Lithuania continues to provide Ukraine with military, economic, humanitarian, and political assistance

When it comes to state level military aid, Lithuania has already established a long-term support plan. Lithuania’s commitment for 2024-2026 foresees at least 200 million EUR worth of military assistance to Ukraine. In addition to regularly transferring military hardware and equipment, Lithuania also actively trains Ukrainian soldiers, takes in injured service members for medical care, arranges expert consultations, and contributes financially to international funds supporting Ukraine. In total, military aid accounts for half of the 1 billion EUR assistance Lithuania has provided to Ukraine so far.  

For the past two years, Lithuanians have been galvanised to support Ukraine through various initiatives. In February 2023, the “Radarom!” campaign raised 14 million EUR, which was used to buy 16 radars to protect Ukraine‘s skies. In 2024, Lithuania united for a new campaign aimed at protecting Ukrainian soldiers. The kits that the new campaign aimed to prepare consist of a night vision monocular, a laser sight, and individual anti-drone devices, all made in Lithuania and designed to help Ukrainian soldiers stay better protected. The latest campaign raised 8 million EUR. Non-governmental foundations have also been successfully raising funds for military aid. For instance, as of the end of 2023, Lithuanians have donated over 51M EUR to the Blue/Yellow Fund for the purchasing and delivery of support to the Ukrainian army. The fund has been supporting Ukraine’s defenders since 2014, providing soldiers and volunteers with non-lethal supplies. And it seems that the Lithuanian people’s willingness to help Ukraine is inexhaustible.


A proud and reliable member of NATO, Lithuania actively contributes to the Alliance’s goals of improving stability and security in the region and throughout Europe. For 20 years, Lithuania, as a NATO nation, has worked and trained together with its Allies to keep its citizens safe. Whether in the air, at sea, on land, or in cyberspace, we are much stronger together than we are alone.