On July 24, a delegation headed by the Minister of National Defence of Lithuania Juozas Olekas paid a visit to Lviv, Ukraine. During the visit Minister of Defence of Poland Tomasz Semoniak and Minister of Defence of Ukraine Lieutenant General Stepan Poltorak and Minister Juozas Olekas met to sign a technical agreement on a joint military unit of the respective countries, the Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade (LITPOLUKRBRIG), and fundamentals of its command.
The technical agreement supplements and elaborates on the agreement of establishing the LITPOLUKRBRIG the defence Ministers of the three establishing countries endorsed in Warsaw last September. The technical agreement stipulates that within 6 months after the signature of the document the LITPOLUKRBRIG command will have reached its initial operational capability, while within 12 months it will be fully capable of commanding the unit. The capacity of the LITPOLUKRBRIG command will then need to be approved by international certification.
The brigade commander, his deputy and the chief of staff will be assigned by Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine for a period of three years on a rotating basis. The establishing states will delegate representatives to form a LITPOLUKRBRIG Coordination Group, which will be tasked with approving the brigade’s budget-related, or other finance, training, exercises and logistics-related planning, and with supervision of the command’s work.
While in Lviv, Minister of National Defence and his delegation will also observe Exercise Rapid Trident in Yavoriv district of Lviv region. It is an exercise the U.S. Army Europe (USAREUR) organizes in Ukraine on an annual basis. This year a contingent formed by the Grand Duchess Birutė Battalion is taking part in the exercise, also involving 17 other NATO allies and partner nations, on Lithuania’s behalf. Commander of the Lithuanian Land Force Major General Almatnas Leika will also pay a visit to Exercise Rapid Trident. The Battalion will also form the core of the Lithuanian contingent to be assigned to the trilateral LITPOLUKRBRIG Brigade.
Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade (LITPOLUKRBRIG)
The Ministers of Defence of the stablishing countries endorsed the agreement on establishing the trilateral Lithuanian-Polish-Ukrainian Brigade (LITPOLUKRBRIG) in Warsaw on 19 September 2014. Subsequently, the agreement was ratified by the parliaments of the respective countries.
The Brigade will be formed following the model of multinational crisis response capabilities – European Union Battle Groups (EU BGs). The LITPOLUKRBRIG is planned to be made up of an international staff, three battalions and special-purpose units. Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine will each assign an infantry battalion, the establishing nations will commit personnel for special-purpose units and the LITPOLUKRBRIG staff.
The agreement provides for the participation of the LITPOLUKRBRIG personnel in joint training and exercises and deployment of the Brigade or its elements to international operations mandated by the United Nations Security Council, while decision regarding deployment of the LITPOLUKRBRIG to international operations will be made by general consent of all the establishing countries.
The LITPOLUKRBRIG HQ will be based in Lublin, Poland. Lithuania plans posting up to five soldiers on a permanent basis as well as to deploy additional military personnel during LITPOLUKRBRIG training and exercises. The LITPOLUKRBRIG battalions will be held on standby in their home countries, and deploy in composition of the LITPOLUKRBRIG in case a decision is made to activate the Brigade or any of its elements.
The Lithuanian contribution to the LITPOLUKRBRIG will be formed from the personnel of the Grand Duchess Birutė Uhlan Battalion. Personnel of the Battalion were also the source of the Lithuanian input into the joint Lithuanian-Polish Battalion (LITPOLBAL) in 1999-2007. The contemporary military unit formed cooperatively with a NATO ally enabled Lithuanian solders to adopt NATO military procedures, to prepared for NATO-led multinational operations as well as to get ready for integration into NATO’s military organization. The LITPOLUKRBRIG project is also aimed strengthening regional cooperation and assisting Ukraine in taking a more active part in the cooperation in the region and Euro-Atlantic area, and adopting experience and military standards of NATO allies.
As embedded in the LITPOLUKRBRIG establishing agreement, other nations will be able to join the unit at the invitation of the establishing nations. Negotiations on the establishment of the Lithuanian, Latvian and Ukrainian trilateral military unit thus contributing to regional and wide-scale international stability and security were launched in 2007. The project also aims for strengthening the strategic partnership and defence cooperation between Lithuania and Poland and assisting Ukraine to join the cooperation in the Euro-Atlantic space on a more active basis.