Lithuania aims to boost defence spending in response to Ukraine crisis -PM

February 21, 2022

VILNIUS (Reuters) – The Lithuanian government plans to increase military spending as it looks to beef up its defences amid heightened fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said on Monday.

Washington and Moscow on Monday played down hopes of a breakthrough in Europe’s biggest military crisis in decades, and satellite imagery appeared to show Russian deployments closer to Ukraine’s border than before.

“As the situation in the region is getting worse… I have asked Defence Minster and Chief of Defence to see possibilities to speed up planned defence purchases…,” Simonyte said in a statement.

“Under the circumstances, financing the defence of the country is the government’s priority.”

Lithuania has budgeted 1.2 billion euros ($1.36 billion), or 2.05% of GDP, on defence this year. Any increase would need cabinet and parliamentary approval.

NATO, to which Lithuania belongs, recommends that member states spend at least 2% of GDP on defence.

($1 = 0.8817 euros)

(Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; editing by John Stonestreet)