Viewing cable 04VILNIUS1546

04VILNIUS15462004-12-22 12:51:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 VILNIUS 001546 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 12/21/2014 
     ¶B. VILNIUS 1380 
	¶C. VILNIUS 1350 
¶1. (U) This cable contains two action requests.  Please see 
paragraph 13. 
¶2. (C) Summary. New Lithuanian Defense Minister Gediminas 
Kirkilas told the Ambassador that Lithuania would remain 
engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq during a December 21 tour 
d'horizon of our bilateral military-military relationship. 
A solid proponent of a strong USG-GOL relationship, 
Kirkilas's comments tracked with U.S. views on other key 
issues including Baltic air policing, ESDP, and Lithuanian 
interest in participating in a PRT in Afghanistan.  A long- 
time MP, Kirkilas will focus more on the politics of his 
new position than did his predecessor.   He will need time 
to get up to speed on the details of the more technical 
military issues.  End Summary. 
¶3. (C) Kirkilas welcomed the Ambassador and the Embassy's 
pol-mil team at his first meeting with a foreign Ambassador 
since taking office December 14.  The Ambassador and DefMin 
reviewed all aspects of our bilateral relationship with 
major issues highlighted below. 
Bilateral Relationship 
¶4. (C) The Ambassador noted to Kirkilas that the Embassy 
has had a traditionally active relationship with the 
Defense Ministry and that we look forward to deepening that 
relationship with Kirkilas on the job, particularly through 
a visit to the U.S. early in his tenure.  Kirkilas said he 
would eagerly welcome such an opportunity. 
¶5. (C) Kirkilas affirmed Lithuania's continued 
participation in military operations in Iraq, and said that 
his staff is examining how it might be able to even 
increase its participation, resources permitting.  He 
referred to increasing pressure in Poland for a Polish 
withdrawal, and expressed confidence that Lithuania would 
face no such pressures in the immediate future.  The 
Ambassador thanked Kirkilas for the commitment, in 
particular for Lithuania's early and positive response to 
support NATO's training mission in Iraq.  He noted that the 
Embassy is committed to help the government maintain 
popular support for its participation, including through 
its recently launched biweekly newsletter on developments 
in Iraq, which we send to political and opinion leaders. 
Additionally, the Ambassador urged that Kirkilas consider 
an early visit to Lithuanian troops on the ground in Iraq 
(and Afghanistan) to acquaint himself personally with 
coalition operations.  He expressed an interest to do so. 
¶6. (C) The Ambassador commended the performance of 
Lithuanian special forces in Afghanistan, who just departed 
to return to Lithuania to train for participation in the 
NATO Reaction Force.  While we understood the need to 
withdraw, the Ambassador urged that Lithuania keep its 
commitment to return in 2006. 
¶7. (C) Kirkilas said the GOL is interested in participating 
in a PRT in Afghanistan, but has concerns about the cost of 
such an undertaking.  The Ambassador recommended that 
Lithuania continue to take a leadership role and recommend 
to its Baltic neighbors that they pool their resources for 
a single Baltic-PRT.  We observed that the cost of the 
initiative depended upon the goals of the mission and 
agreed to share information about cost estimates.  (Note: 
The Lithuanians are under the impression that the start up 
and one-year operating costs would be about 40 million 
euros.)  Kirkilas also thought the January 25 deadline for 
declaring intention to mount a PRT posed a problem. 
Kirkilas said that a Lithuanian government team would 
likely visit Afghanistan in January with support from the 
U.K. in order to explore PRT participation options. 
Bilateral Assistance and Procurement 
¶8. (C) The Ambassador said that the USG military assistance 
to Lithuania should remain level and is expected to provide 
approximately $5 million in FMF assistance and $1.2 million 
IMET funding to Lithuania in 2005.  Highlighting the recent 
GOL purchase of Javelin missiles, the Ambassador pledged 
continued assistance in GOL efforts to procure other 
equipment including radios and night vision goggles for 
troops deployed abroad.  The Ambassador also assured 
Kirkilas of continued support in providing opportunities 
for members of Lithuania's armed forces to study in U.S. 
service academies, praising the success of the twelve 
students now enrolled. 
Baltic Air-Policing and Russia 
¶9. (C) The Ambassador affirmed U.S. support for NATO's air- 
policing operations covering the Baltic States and noted 
likely U.S. participation in the mission in 2005.  He also 
commended Lithuania's constructive approach in cooperating 
with Russia's Vienna Documents (VDOC) inspection of 
military sites including the Zokniai airfield, in October 
(ref C).  Lithuania's constructive approach to Russia had 
enhanced regional security in the past, noted the 
Ambassador, and we strongly encourage the continuation of 
such a policy. 
Two Percent GDP Allocation 
¶10. (C) The Ambassador strongly encouraged the GOL to 
fulfill NATO's recommendations to allocate two percent of 
GDP for national defense. The Ambassador applauded 
Kirkilas's public statements in support of the allocation, 
and remarked that NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer 
had recently raised the issue with President Adamkus. 
Concurring that the two percent issue is very important, 
Kirkilas said he would work to "find new decisions" on the 
issue (reftel B).  Kirkilas conceded that some involved in 
the budgetary process were not sensitive to the realities 
of the defense budget or of the need for Lithuania to 
continue force transformation following NATO membership. 
¶11. (C) The Ambassador noted the USG support for European 
security and defense, but cautioned that ESDP neither 
duplicate NATO nor diminish the capacity of NATO members to 
meet NATO commitments. Kirkilas concurred that NATO must 
remain the primary guarantor of security in Europe. 
Kirkilas said that Lithuania was not facing significant 
pressure from Europe to pledge more defense assets to ESDP. 
¶12. (C) Kirkilas described engagement with and support for 
the South Caucasus as a high GOL and MOD priority, and 
noted that the GOL had pledged assistance in Georgia's 
preparations for a bid for NATO membership.  He said that 
Georgia approached the GOL seeking a transfer of Soviet 
weapons to Georgian defense forces, and raised a GOG 
request to the GOL to transfer 1,000-2,000 U.S. M-14 rifles 
to Georgia's national honor guard forces, and that the GOL 
now sought USG approval of the transfer.  The Ambassador 
welcomed Lithuania's engagement with Georgia and encouraged 
Kirkilas in his contacts with the Georgian leadership to 
discourage any new military action in South Ossetia, which 
would impede solution of the problem and endanger Georgia's 
NATO aspirations. 
Action Requests 
¶13. (C) Action Requests. 
¶A. We request that the Department provide guidance on the 
GOL transfer of 1,000-2,000 M-14s to the GOG. 
¶B. We request information on the possibility of Lithuania 
postponing past January 25, 2005 a declaration of its 
intentions regarding participation in a PRT. 
¶14. (C) It is clear that Kirkilas will need time to come up 
to speed on military issues.  His political background, 
familiarity with the intricacies of Lithuania's Coalition 
government, and leadership role within his party and 
parliament (he remains a MP and the Social Democratic 
Party's Deputy Whip) may serve the MOD well during 
contentious budgetary battles.  We will continue to 
actively engage Kirkilas on issues of interest, and 
recommend that we create opportunities for travel to the 
U.S. as well as to Iraq and Afghanistan to help him become 
familiar with the issues as quickly as possible.