Poland, Lithuania to establish joint working group on air defence

During a visit to Lithuania on Wednesday, Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Blaszczak said the two countries are aware of threats and are responding to them jointly, going on to announce the establishment of a working group on air defence among other issues.

Following the inauguration of a sitting of the Lithuanian-Polish Council of Defence Ministers, Blaszczak and his Lithuanian counterpart, Raimudas Karoblis, signed a joint communique and Polish General Chief of Staff Rajmund Andrzejczak and his Lithuanian counterpart General Valdemaras Rupsys signed a note of affiliation bringing Poland's 15th Mechanised Brigade and Lithuania's Iron Wolf Mechanised Brigade under the command of the Multinational Division North East (MND NE) headquartered in Elblag, northern Poland.

The two brigades will exercise with the command, which coordinates the activities of the Multinational NATO Battalion on the eastern NATO flank deployed as part of the Enhanced Forward Presence.

"We're working on the security both of Poland and Lithuania, we are neighbours, we are aware of threats, but we are responding to those threats through tight cooperation," Blaszczak said. "Hence the command at the divisional level in Elblag, in which a full Lithuanian officer is functioning as chief of staff, the commander is a Polish officer."

Announcing the two brigades' affiliation to the command, Blaszczak said the joint command had been obliged to present a training plan. He said the cooperation was a deterrent to a potential aggressor and that the two countries showed that they work together and are prepared to respond to a crisis situation.

Blaszczak went on to express the conviction that tightened defence cooperation between Poland and Lithuania would enable plans to be agreed upon concerning the defence of Poland, Lithuania and the whole region of the NATO eastern flank.

The Polish defence minister declared readiness to continue participating in the alliance defence mission of Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian airspace, saying that in terms of air defence they would be leaders in that part of Europe. He also said a joint working group had been set up which will deal with air defence issues, maritime observation, the purchase of equipment for the Polish and Lithuanian armed forces and coordination of operational plans.