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Lithuanian President Says NATO Deployment Sends 'Clear Message' Of Unity

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite says the deployment of NATO forces in the Baltic country is sending a "very clear" message that the military alliance stands "strong and united."

Grybauskaite spoke on February 7 at a ceremony to welcome a German battalion in the central Lithuanian town of Rukla.

The troops will head up a multinational NATO force due to reach full strength of about 1,200 members this spring.

The military deployment "significantly strengthens NATO's deterrence posture" amid "an ongoing military buildup around our borders and aggressive actions in our region," Grybauskaite said.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen said the military deployment made it clear that Lithuania was not alone.

NATO units are also being stationed in Poland, Latvia, and Estonia amid concerns over a resurgent Russia.

The countries requested the troops after Russia's annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in March 2014.

Moscow has denounced the buildup as an act of aggression.

Based on reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters