© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda attends a news conference with Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store (not pictured) in Oslo, Norway February 13, 2023. Annika Byrde/NTB/via REUTERS
(Refiling to restore word “equipment” in headline)
By Andrius Sytas
WARSAW (Reuters) – Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda said he urged U.S. President Biden on Wednesday to seek NATO deployment of additional military equipment, such as HIMARS artillery or attack helicopters, in the Baltic states.
Nauseda told reporters he made the request during a meeting in Warsaw between Biden and leaders of countries on NATO’s eastern flank, including Baltic nations Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia.
Biden was silent but took notes as he listened to proposals by Nauseda and others on deploying air defence systems in the Baltics and other eastern flank countries, the Lithuanian president said.
“I have talked about deployment of so-called critical enablers – this includes airspace surveillance systems, attack helicopters, HIMARS artillery,” Nauseda said. “We can hardly afford to purchase this, it but it could be deployed (by allies) to the Baltics on rotational grounds.”
Biden met the leaders of the transatlantic military alliance’s “frontline” to show support for their security, one day after returning from a surprise visit to Kyiv and two days before the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“The presence of Biden in Kyiv and Warsaw sends a clear signal to our people and to people in Europe that the U.S. presence is going to be there in the coming years,” Estonian President Alar Karis said in an interview.
Some of the leaders at Wednesday’s meeting discussed the prospect that, after a planned NATO summit in July in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius, Ukraine would be “several steps closer” to gaining NATO membership, Nauseda said.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy plans to attend that summit in person, Ukraine’s ambassador to Lithuania told local newswire BNS.
“I heard from President Biden a very strong commitment to support Ukraine, it’s clear that Ukraine should win” its war with Russia, Latvian President Egils Levits said in an interview.
(This story has been refiled to add the word “equipment” in the headline)