THE US State Department has approved the sale of Javelin anti-tank missiles to Lithuania in a $125 million deal amid escalating tensions between Russia and the US over Ukraine.
Announcing the potential weapons sale on Tuesday, the US Defence Department further stated that the total package of the missile deal would include 341 of the FGM-148F version of the weapon and 30 command launch units, parts, and technical support.
The Pentagon’s Defence Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified Congress of the likely sale on Tuesday and claimed that the deal would ‘help Lithuania build its long-term defence capability to protect its sovereignty and territorial integrity to meet its national defence needs.’
‘This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a NATO ally that is an important force for ensuring peace and stability in Europe,’ it further added.
According to the statement, major US weapons makers Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies were the prime contractors for the anti-tank missiles. It did not indicate, however, when the Javelins would be delivered to Vilnius.
Washington’s arms sales to the ex-Soviet Baltic state, which is a member of both the US-led NATO military alliance and the European Union (EU), comes amid Moscow’s repeated warnings of a ‘military response’ to potential security threats from the West and its push to expand NATO even closer to the Russian border.
The development came a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of military-technical measures and a tough response if NATO pushed further toward his country’s borders.
Russian President Vladimir Putin warns of military-technical measures and a tough response if NATO expands further toward Russia
‘In case of clearly aggressive policy continued by our Western colleagues, we will take adequate military-technical measures and respond toughly to unfriendly steps,’ Putin said at a meeting of top generals on Tuesday. ‘And, I want to emphasise, we have every right to do so, we have every right to take actions designed to ensure the security and sovereignty of Russia.’
Putin further insisted that NATO’s decision to expand eastward was a miscalculation driven in part by a sense of ‘euphoria’ after the Cold War.
Russia also declared earlier this week that it was critically important for the US to respond to the seeking of security guarantees by Moscow regarding the situation around Ukraine, warning of a possible military action if NATO fails to come up with a political solution to ease its concerns.
Russia has stressed the need for an urgent response from the United States on its security guarantees regarding the situation around Ukraine.
Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Monday that Moscow had so far received no response from the United States and underlined that Russia was ready for a military response if NATO kept ignoring Moscow’s security concerns.
‘I said that we would find forms to respond, including by military and military-technical means if NATO ignores Moscow’s concerns again,’ Ryabkov was quoted by Russia’s TASS news agency as saying.
The Russian Foreign Ministry released last week two draft documents on the provision of legal security guarantees from Washington and NATO, which included a promise that the US-led military alliance would give up any military activity in Eastern Europe and Ukraine. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan announced on Friday that Washington is prepared for dialog with Moscow over its security demands and will present its own concerns.
Russia and the US-led NATO have recently been at odds over Ukraine. Western countries accuse Russia of preparing for an invasion of Ukraine by amassing troops and armaments near the border with that country.
Moscow insists it is entitled to move its military freely within its borders and that it is taking precautionary steps because of increased NATO activity near its territory.
The new battalion of US military forces, equipped with tanks and other armoured vehicles is to be deployed to Lithuania in November and will remain there until next June, the country’s defence minister says.
Lithuania’s defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis made the announcement on Tuesday, though he said the deployment was ‘not connected at all to the situation in Belarus.’
He said the new battalion would replace an American troop contingent that was stationed in the country near Belarus’ border earlier this month for a two-month tour.
NATO activity has picked up near the borders of Belarus, where there has been unrest after the re-election in August of President Alexander Lukashenko.
Lukashenko has said Western countries seek to destabilise Belarus and has put the country’s military on high alert and shut its borders with Poland and Lithuania.
The US battalion currently deployed in Lithuania arrived earlier and is staying longer than the government had indicated before the outbreak of protests in neighbouring Belarus.
Belarusian defence Minister Viktor Khrenin warned in a recent televised interview that an American armour battalion had redeployed its tanks to a location in Lithuania close to the Belarusian border.
Lukashenko also accused the US of organising the post-election protests in Belarus through social media platforms. He said Americans, acting through centres in Poland and the Czech Republic, were controlling the social media platforms that are playing a leading role in the unrest.
Earlier this month, the Lithuanian defence Ministry issued a statement saying that the US would deploy 500 troops to the country to engage in war games near the border with Belarus.
- Libya has meanwhile called off a presidential election after the parliament’s election committee ruled out the possibility of holding the vote today.
The parliament announced on Wednesday that the presidential election planned for today would not go ahead. It did not set a new date for the election.
The announcement came after a parliamentary committee tasked with overseeing Libya’s electoral process said it had become ‘impossible’ to hold the vote in two days as scheduled.
‘After consulting the technical, judicial, and security reports, we inform you of the impossibility of holding the elections on the date of December 24, 2021, provided for by the electoral law,’the chairman of the committee wrote to the head of parliament on Wednesday.
The head of Libya’s election committee orders the dissolution of the electoral body ahead of polls today.
The decision was made after the head of Libya’s High National Electoral Commission ordered the dissolution of the electoral committees nationwide. It said it was the responsibility of the Libyan parliament to make the announcement of a postponement of the vote.
The parliament’s statement also said that the government’s mandate would expire on Friday.
As some members of the house have called for a new government to be installed, some main factions and political institutions may stick with the government, which is also recognised by the United Nations (UN).
The interim government was formed in February to take the country through to elections, but the election’s collapse, which was widely expected, has now left an internationally backed peace process in chaos and the fate of the interim government in doubt.
Many are now concerned that a looming political vacuum will lead to renewed violence and economic chaos in the North African country.
Libya has been beset by violence and chaos since the overthrow and killing of its long-serving ruler Muammar Gaddafi following a bombing campaign by the US-led NATO military alliance in 2011 using the British and French air forces.
The resulting chaos and factional divisions then escalated into a regional proxy war fuelled by foreign powers, who poured weapons and mercenaries into the country to keep it split and divided – all the better to steal its oil wealth.