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Lithuania to increase defense spending up to 2.5 percent by 2030

Staff Writer | March 21, 2018
Lithuania's State defense council decided to increase the country's defense spending up to 2.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030, citing ongoing security tensions in the Eastern Europe as the reason for the increase.
Saulius Skvernelis
Europe   The state security council
The state security council (VGT), a top defense body, governed by the country's president, approved the decision to "gradually increase" the defense spending, pushing it further above the NATO target of 2.0 percent of GDP.

According to the VGT, an extraordinary security situation could lead to an even higher increase.

"The security situation in the region remains complicated, tensions around Lithuania haven't diminished. People's security has to be guaranteed, we have to continue strengthening the country's defense capabilities," Zivile Satuniene, the chief national security adviser to the Lithuania president, told journalists after the VGT sitting.

In 2018, Lithuania's defense expenditures are 873 million euros (1.07 billion U.S. dollars), or 2.01 percent of the country's GDP.

The country's parliament has the final say on the allocation of budget expenditures but so far, the parliament and the government have followed the VGT's recommendations.

However, Ramunas Karbauskis, the leader of Lithuania's ruling Peasants and Greens Union in parliament, criticized the plans.

"There's no need for us to lead in terms of defense spending when we have so many other problems in the country," Karbauskis was quoted as saying by local news agency BNS.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis backed the idea of boosting defense spending to 2.5 percent of GDP.

Lithuania, a small Baltic country with a population of less than 3 million and NATO's eastern-flank member, has found itself under increased security threat since 2014.