Viewing cable 06VILNIUS1032

06VILNIUS10322006-11-16 13:57:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius

DE RUEHVL #1032/01 3201357
R 161357Z NOV 06
C O N F I D E N T I A L VILNIUS 001032 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/15/2016 
REF: STATE 186256 
Classified By: Ambassador John Cloud for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d). 
¶1. (C) Summary.  Looking towards the Riga Summit, Lithuania 
hopes for encouraging words on Baltic air policing and NATO 
enlargement.  The GOL remains committed to success in 
Afghanistan, where it may redeploy special forces in 2007. 
End Summary. 
Lithuania considering sending SOF to Afghanistan 
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¶2. (C) Defense Undersecretary Renatas Norkus told Ambassador 
November 15 that Lithuania is considering options to send 
special operations forces (SOF) to Afghanistan in the second 
part of 2007.  He said that one option is to send SOF to 
Ghor, where Lithuania leads a Provincial Reconstruction Team, 
if the situation there deteriorates.  Other options include 
sending a squadron to the UK's PRTs in Helmand or to 
Northwestern Afghanistan.  Norkus added that Lithuania may 
send a SOF detachment of 12 as a security detail for the 
Lithuanian Ambassador in Kabul, although this would be in 
addition to another SOF deployment, not an alternative. 
Ambassador stressed that Afghanistan will be the U.S.'s top 
priority at the Riga Summit, and we hoped Lithuania could 
announce its commitment of SOF in Riga. 
¶3. (C) Norkus reiterated that "Afghanistan is priority number 
one" among Lithuania's international missions.  Lithuania is 
set to take on complete financial responsibility for the PRT 
in January 2007.  "You won't get another letter from our 
Minister asking for an extension of U.S. funding," Norkus 
said.  He expressed hope that the parliament would approve a 
rise in the civilian assistance budget for Afghanistan as 
well.  (PM Kirkilas anticipated such an outcome in a 
discussion with the Ambassador on 11/14.)  While praising an 
overall increase in Lithuania's defense spending, Norkus 
commented that Lithuania had financial constraints on its 
overseas missions and domestic defense transformation goals. 
He added that an eventual reduction of Lithuania's engagement 
in Iraq could also have positive effects on the level of its 
engagement in Afghanistan. 
¶4. (C) Drawing on reftel points, Ambassador reiterated our 
desire to eliminate national caveats on ISAF forces.  Norkus 
defended Lithuania's two caveats as having no effect on 
Lithuania's activities.  That the PRT cannot operate outside 
Ghor was a question of capacity, not a political caveat, he 
said.  The caveat excluding counternarcotics operations was 
redundant according to Norkus, since the ISAF mission does 
not include such operations.  Norkus pointed out that when 
Lithuania had SOF in Afghanistan, they had no caveats, and 
Lithuania would likely keep the same policy for future SOF 
Riga Summit Communique 
¶5. (C) Norkus outlined three broad areas of concern about the 
Riga Summit Communique.  Lithuania wants the Communique to 
describe NATO as the "Preeminent Transatlantic Security 
Institution," define Article Five as the cornerstone of NATO, 
and endorse "open door" principles for enlargement.  Norkus 
said that the initial draft communique had better language 
than subsequent drafts about NATO being the most important 
transatlantic security institution.  The Article Five 
language looked "safe" he said, and Lithuania supports 
positive language for MAP countries Croatia, Albania and 
Macedonia as well as Georgia in the communique. 
Lithuania:  "Perhaps don't mention MAP for Ukraine" 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
¶6. (C) Lithuania's strong support for Ukraine's integration 
with NATO notwithstanding, they do not support retaining MAP 
language for Ukraine at Riga.  Lithuania is a strong advocate 
of Ukraine's engagement with NATO: the President and Defense 
Minister were in Ukraine November 14-15 encouraging closer 
engagement.  But they believe that publicly encouraging MAP 
for Ukraine during the Riga Summit could precipitate a 
Ukrainian referendum on NATO as early as next year, which 
would surely result in a rejection.  The MFA's NATO Division 
Head told us earlier that President Adamkus told NATO 
Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Schefffer during the latter's 
November 10 visit to Vilnius that Yanukovych could very well 
be the one to ultimately lead Ukraine to NATO, pointing out 
that as the unlikely NATO supporter Yanukovych was best 
positioned to consolidate opinion in support of NATO 
Lithuania seeks to Extend Air Policing Mission 
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¶7. (C) Norkus emphasized the political importance of NATO's 
Baltic Air Policing Mission.  He acknowledged that in 10-15 
years, the political demand for constant air policing would 
likely diminish, but said that any change in the 24/7 air 
policing mission now would result in calls for Lithuania to 
buy its own aircraft.  If NATO changes to a threat-based 
air-policing policy that does not provide 24/7 coverage of 
the Baltic states, "there is a de facto double standard," he 
said.  He went on to say that, since the mission began, the 
nature of air space violations has changed.  Recent 
violations have been brief intrusions into air space in 
border areas, whereas in the past, he said, Russian aircraft 
flew across Lithuanian territory.  "Removing air-policing 
now," he said, "would put the NATO standard back to sending 
diplomatic notes (to Russia) once they have already flown 
over our territory, as we did before we joined NATO." 
¶8. (C) Norkus pointed out that SYG de Hoop Scheffer made 
comments during his Vilnius visit that Baltic air policing 
should continue, and Norkus asked if the USG could make a 
similar statement of support.  The MFA's NATO Division Head 
told us the day before that de Hoop Sheffer told President 
Adamkus privately that he was committed to the continuation 
of the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission during his term as 
Secretary General. 
Lithuania moving cautiously towards long-term solution 
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¶9. (C) Lithuania is trying to build support for the extension 
of NATO's Baltic Air Policing by bilaterally soliciting 
contributions to fill future rotations, including from the 
United States.  Norwegian and Danish Defense Ministers 
publicly announced their commitment to fill future rotations 
at the November 8 Nordic/Baltic Defense ministerial.  Norkus 
told us that Lithuania has already lined up 28 months of air 
policing for future rotations with contributions from 
Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, and the Czech 
Republic.  MFA NATO Division Head told us November 14 that 
once Lithuania has filled contributions through 2011, he 
said, Lithuania may then choose to push for a decision on 
their proposal to extend air-policing through 2018, or may 
choose to continue by having periodic force generation 
conferences and extending the Interim Solution on a yearly 
Trying to make air policing more comfortable 
¶10. (C) Norkus added that Lithuania is striving to make air 
policing cheaper for allied squadrons.  It is considering 
using one of its new C-27s to provide transport for 
contributors, and is also considering permanent upgrades at 
the base to reduce the burden on contributors.  The 
coordinated Baltic 2018 strategy calls for the development of 
air bases in Latvia and Estonia as well, although those 
governments still have significant work to do to develop 
those bases, he said. 
Strategic Air Lift Initiative 
¶11. (C) Lithuania strongly supports the Strategic Airlift 
Initiative and is happy to be part of this initiative that 
fills a shortfall in NATO capacity, Norkus told the 
Ambassador.  He said that language appearing in the 
communique about the initiative has "watered down" its tie to 
NATO, which is not helpful to the Ministry.  He said that 
identifying this initiative very clearly as a NATO initiative 
was crucial to the Ministry's press strategy in selling the 
commitment.  He added that of the several payment formulae 
now on the table for the project, the thirty-year payment 
plan does not appear to be the most popular, although 
Lithuania needs those terms.  Lithuania cannot afford to pay 
off the aircraft in only a few years.