U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter has given his backing to German plans to send troops to Lithuania to reassure NATO’s Eastern European allies wary of a resurgent Russia.
"I do think it is important. But that is a decision Germany will make in the context of NATO," Carter said on May 3 in the southern German city of Stuttgart, shortly after overseeing the changeover of United States European Command's (EUCOM) top general.
The German Defense Ministry has signaled its willingness to deploy a rotating contingent of between 150 and 200 soldiers to Lithuania. They would lead a broader alliance of soldiers with the intention of strengthening combat capability along NATO's eastern flank.
"Russia continues to violate the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, and actually seeks to intimidate its Baltic neighbors," Carter said.
"We don't seek a cold -- let alone a hot -- war with Russia. We don't seek to make Russia an enemy. But make no mistake: We will defend our allies," he added.
A decision regarding the German deployment will be made at a NATO summit in Warsaw on June 8-9.
Based on reporting by dpa