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US to beef up military presence in Lithuania as Russia and Belarus team up for drills

July 31, 17:59 UTC+3 VILNIUS

A rotating contingent of Lithuania’s NATO allies involving 100 personnel and four fighter jets is stationed at the Lithuanian Zokniai air base

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© AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis

VILNIUS, July 31. /TASS/. The United States will step up its military presence in Lithuania when Russia and Belarus will kick off joint efforts for the West-2017 military exercises, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite stated on national radio on Monday.

"During the West-2017 exercises, the US will double the usual number of fighter aircraft stationed in Lithuania," she said, noting that also "there will be more military, hardware and ships".

A rotating contingent of Lithuania’s NATO allies involving 100 personnel and four fighter jets is stationed at the Lithuanian Zokniai air base. At the present time, a contingent from the Polish Air Force is deployed there, which will be replaced at the start of September by a US Air Force contingent.

The Baltic States have no planes to control their airspace. This is done by their NATO partners. Four more fighter jets are stationed at Estonia’s Amari Air Base.

The US also regularly sends ground units to Lithuania that participate in joint training exercises with Lithuanian military.

The large-scale West-2017 war game will be held at Belarusian firing ranges in September. About 13,000 military personnel and up to 80 pieces of military hardware will participate.

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