Prague, May 10 (CTK) – The Czech government approved the deployment of troops within NATO’s multinational combat battalions in the Baltics on the proposal of the Defence Ministry today, government spokesman Martin Ayrer has tweeted.
Up to 290 soldiers are to be stationed in Latvia and Lithuania between the beginning of next year and January 2019.
The plan is yet to be dealt with by the parliament.
“We will send up to 290 soldiers to the Baltics next year. Most of them will be deployed within the German grouping in Lithuania. There will be also the French, Dutch and Croats,” Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky (ANO) told CTK.
A mortar company will be involved in the mission under the Canadian command in Latvia.
“This is our clear contribution to NATO’s collective defence on which our own defence is also based,” Stropnicky said.
At its Warsaw summit last year, NATO agreed that for the sake of deterrence and defence, it will send four multinational combat groups to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
The reason was the fears of NATO’s eastern members of Russia.
In each of the countries, over 1,000 allied troops will be deployed. Britain will command the battalion in Estonia, Germany in Lithuania, Canada in Latvia and the USA in Poland.
NATO members will contribute with their soldiers to the battalions.
The Czech Republic has agreed on its involvement in the Canadian and German contingents.
A mechanised platoon with 250 soldiers is to leave for Lithuania. It is to be stationed there between May 1, 2018 and January 31, 2019.
“At the same time, the mortar company will join the contingent commanded by Canada in Latvia. There will be a maximum of 40 persons between January 1, 2018 and January 31, 2019,” Defence Ministry spokesman Petr Medek told CTK.
“Along with a demonstration that the sovereignty of an allied country will be defended,” the unit will also take part in the training along with the allies, Medek said.
“The joint training and exercises may take place in all the Baltic countries and Poland,” Medek said.
In Lithuania, Czech troops served within a joint exercise of the Visegrad Four (the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia) and the Baltic countries early this year already.
The Czech Republic has repeatedly sent its aircraft to air policing over the Baltics. The Czech fighters may rejoin it in 2019.