On July 10, U.S. Patriot missiles arrived at Lithuania’s northern Siauliai military airbase in preparation for NATO’s Tobruk Legacy air defense military exercises occurring July 11-22. The exercise, “demonstrates that such moves are no longer a taboo in the region,” according to Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimondas Karoblis. Lithuania has been calling for assistance in deploying air defense systems since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. The Patriot systems will be removed from Lithuania on July 22, following the completion of the exercises.
The Tobruk Legacy exercises come before a large-scale joint military exercise between Belarus and Russia, the Zapad 2017 exercises. NATO officials estimate that nearly 100,000 Russian and Belorussian soldiers may participate in the exercises, placing a sizeable force in proximity of the borders of NATO-allied Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia.