VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — Lithuania has signed an agreement with the United States formalizing the presence of U.S. troops in the small Baltic country bordering Russia and Belarus.
The agreement will facilitate the deployment of U.S. forces and support staff as well as the implementation of joint exercises and training. According to the Lithuanian military, 140 U.S. troops are currently based permanently in Lithuania, and other units frequently visit for military drills.
Across Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, fears are intensifying that Russia, after displaying its military might in Georgia, Ukraine and now Syria, could have the Baltic states in its sights next.
"We are interested in the continued presence of American troops in Lithuania as this is one of the key elements of our security," Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis said during the signing ceremony Tuesday.