Joint press conference
by the Chairman of the Military Committee, General Knud Bartels and the Chief of Defence of Lithuania, Major General Jonas Vytautas Žukas - Questions and answers
MODERATOR: German, Reuters.
Q: André Sitas from Reuters. A question for Mr. Bartels! Could you provide us with more details for the Readiness Action Plan? What does it mean in terms of the reinforcement of bases? Your position on it?
KNUD BARTELS (Chairman of the NATO Military Committee): As I alluded to in my short presentation of the discussions which have taken place, and then as things are to be seen in parallel, first of all the assurance measures which are already in place which will be reinforced and sustained as long as it is necessary.
Secondly, we are then going to develop the VJTF or the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force. The Chiefs of Defence have today provided their guidance to the strategic commanders to develop such a concept. And then, when it has been approved at an operational level approve and operate from the level, it will be implemented.
So we are in no way in the details, as yet, and therefore we have, as an interim measure, decided to offer to our political leaders interim measures such as adapting the existing structure of the NATO Response Force to meet the challenge.
MODERATOR: Thank you... next question.
MODERATOR: Please use the microphone.
Q: (Inaudible) (SPEAKS LITHUANIAN) What are the three nations that have promised to contribute their capabilities to the rotating force?
JONAS VYTAUTAS ŽUKAS (Lithuanian Armed Forces Commander Major General): (SPEAKS LITHUANIAN) We had discussions with Belgium, Germany and Hungary on that.
MODERATOR: Next question...
Q: (SPEAKS LITHUANIAN) Naujasis regionas, Baltija News Agency, I would like to ask General Bartels: Ukraine’s media has announced today that nuclear weapon might have been used in an attack on Luhansk Airport by Russian forces, or let’s call them pro-Russian forces, as stated by the Ukrainian Defence Minister Valery Galetey.. The information was not confirmed later, but neither was it refuted. According to the Ukrainian Minister of Defence, Galetey, such a version is feasible as there is abundant data pointing to it. Does NATO have any information regarding this matter and what reaction would it trigger if this information proved to be true?
KNUD BARTELS: I have not heard anything on this issue before exactly now. So I cannot have a proper and professional assessment of it. If such an event had taken place have taken place, I'm sure I would have been informed.
MODERATOR: All right. Next question, to gentleman in the middle.
Q: Thank you. (SPEAKS LITHUANIAN) TV3 channel. I would like to ask General Žukas, perhaps the guest, too, could you comment on Putin’s claims that he could occupy the Baltics States as well as Poland in two days?
JONAS VYTAUTAS ŽUKAS: (SPEAKS LITHUANIAN) I cannot allow myself to comment on such matters for that is not a serious political statement; moreover, I am not aware of the context.
Q: But it was a conversation between two presidents.
JONAS VYTAUTAS ŽUKAS: (SPEAKS LITHUANIAN) Perhaps it was but this is not a serious discussion and it does not call for my comment.
MODERATOR: All right, thank you. Next question. To the gentleman in the middle... Right there, yeah.
Q: (SPEAKS LITHUANIAN). Vaidas Beniušis, BNS news agency. I would like to as General Žukas to specify when the rotating forces of Belgium, Germany and Hungary are expected to be deployed, and whether that concerns Lithuania or all the three Baltic States? Maybe I could use this opportunity to also, if possible for Mister... for General Bartels how much... is NATO preparing more now for possible hybrid warfare? And what will be the threshold that NATO would reinforce Article 5? As some in the Baltic States are concerned that such action as in Ukraine are seen as an invasion, and wonder if that would trigger Article 5 in the Baltic States?
JONAS VYTAUTAS ŽUKAS: (SPEAKS IN LITHUANIAN) The talks we had were preliminary in nature so I cannot clarify on the specific details of deployment. We were discussing participation in exercises, whether it is of short or long duration, as all the countries have different potentials for that. Our discussion on this topic has made it clear that the countries are ready to contribute to exercises side by side with the Lithuanian Armed Forces on the territory of Lithuania, whereas concrete time, though in the nearest future probably, will most likely be specified in a short while too.
KNUD BARTELS: Should anyone threaten an Ally, the 28 Nations member of the Alliance, they will be met... the threat will be met at an appropriate level by the full military power of the most powerful Alliance in the world.
MODERATOR: Next question. It will be the last question.
Q: (SPEAKS LITHUANIAN) Where and when could the so-call Command and Control Elements be expected to be established, it is a question for Mister Bartels; and could you characterise them?
KNUD BARTELS: I just want to make sure that I got the question right. You ask, I assume, as to the location in Lithuania. Is that correct?
Q: Yes, where it in the states? Not specifically in Lithuania but also in another country.
KNUD BARTELS: This is exactly what is being assessed at this time how we are going to do it in details. But we're already moving in with a force on a rotational basis among others in the three Baltic States and in Poland and decided to reinforce the air policing forces here and participation of the air power in Romania.
As to the exact composition and the exact location of those headquarters this will be addressed in the coming months by the NATO military authorities. And a decision will be made at the political level as to how to address it.
KNUD BARTELS: I regret as long as there is no military advice... the NATO mili... to the NATO Council. There's no decision.