Viewing cable 09VILNIUS462
Title: AFGHANISTAN STILL A PRIORITY AMID BUDGET CRISIS

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
09VILNIUS4622009-08-31 13:34:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vilnius
VZCZCXRO5204
PP RUEHSL RUEHSR
DE RUEHVL #0462/01 2431334
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 311334Z AUG 09 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO RUEHXP/ALL NATO POST COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI PRIORITY 0029
RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ASTANA PRIORITY 0001
RUEHKB/AMEMBASSY BAKU PRIORITY 0026
RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA PRIORITY 0010
RUEHBUL/AMEMBASSY KABUL PRIORITY 0088
RUEHKU/AMEMBASSY KUWAIT PRIORITY 0041
RUEHMK/AMEMBASSY MANAMA PRIORITY 0017
RUEHMS/AMEMBASSY MUSCAT PRIORITY 0007
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH PRIORITY 0016
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0047
RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3712
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VILNIUS 000462 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/NB, EUR/RPM, SCA/A 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/31/2019 
TAGS: AF LH MARR MOPS NATO PREL
SUBJECT: AFGHANISTAN STILL A PRIORITY AMID BUDGET CRISIS 
 
REF: A. VILNIUS 457 
     ¶B. VILNIUS 194 
     ¶C. VILNIUS 188 
     ¶D. VILNIUS 172 
 
Classified By: CLASSIFIED BY CHARGE D'AFFAIRES DAMIAN LEADER, FOR REASO 
NS 1.4 (B) AND (D). 
 
¶1.  (C)  Summary.  In separate meetings on August 28 we met 
with MFA's Deputy Director of the Transatlantic Cooperation 
and Security Policy Department Simonas Satunas and with MOD's 
Senior Counselor (Political Director) Andrius Krivas to 
discuss both NATO operations and strategy in Afghanistan, in 
particular President Dalia Grybauskaite's August 25 meeting 
with NATO Secretary General Fogh Anders Rasmussen.  Our MFA 
and MOD interlocutors both raised concerns about the 
financial crisis and its potential impact on the GOL mission 
in Afghanistan, but said Lithuania remains committed to its 
military mission in Afghanistan.  End summary. 
 
¶2.  (C)  Satunas briefed us on President Grybauskaite's 
August 25 meeting with NATO Secretary General Rasmussen in 
Brussels.  Satunas said that Grybauskaite raised concerns 
about NATO contingency plans for Lithuania and for the Baltic 
States.  Grybauskaite confirmed the GOL's intention to stay 
the course in Afghanistan, but she also noted that continued 
pressure on the government's budget as a result of the severe 
economic crisis could force the GOL to reevaluate its ability 
to finance its military operations in Afghanistan.  She also 
stressed with Rasmussen the need for more international 
support to finance development projects in Ghor.  Satunas 
said the GOL will present its new Afghanistan strategy, which 
would extend the current mandate for troops on the ground 
from the end of 2010 to the end of 2013, to the Parliament 
(Seimas) in the beginning of Autumn.  Satunas noted that the 
GOL is anxious to obtain Seimas approval of the Afghanistan 
strategy as soon as possible in case the economic crisis 
becomes more difficult. 
 
¶3.  (C)  Krivas said that the mission in Afghanistan remains 
a top priority even as the MOD struggles with a 25% budget 
cut.  Krivas explained that the MOD has already taken some 
tough decisions as a result of economic pressure including 
downsizing its network of Defense Attaches in foreign posts, 
reducing GOL representation in NATO structures and decreasing 
its participation in international missions and operations 
including the KFOR platoon in Kosovo.  Krivas said that the 
GOL wants to maintain current troop levels with the exception 
of the increased number of SOF troops in Afghanistan's RC 
South, who will return home in November.  He explained that 
the increase in SOF is seasonal because hostile activities 
decrease during winter months.  When asked if the GOL would 
send more SOF troops to Afghanistan next summer he hesitated 
and said that it would depend on the budget.  Krivas 
elaborated that the new Government debated about sending the 
additional SOF troops this year.  However Parliament members 
in the Committees of Foreign Affairs and National Security 
and Defense successfully argued in favor of the increase. 
 
¶4.  (C) Krivas said that the MOD's biggest problems in 
Afghanistan are 1) a lack of civilian reconstruction 
resources and 2) Kabul's lack of attention to the Ghor 
province.  Tomas Urbonas, the Head of the MOD's International 
Operations Section, told us that civilian assistance is 
critical for Ghor province to build a sustainable economy, a 
functioning civil administration and to shore up security. 
He noted that the proposed project to build a road from Kabul 
to Herat would open a trade route for Ghor residents to sell 
agricultural goods in both cities.  At present it takes two 
days to travel the 300km of treacherous terrain to reach 
either city making the transport of commercial goods to and 
from Ghor near impossible. 
 
¶5. (SBU) Krivas said that the GOL is moving forward with 
plans to hold an RC West Conference in Vilnius this December. 
 He suggested that the conference would be an opportunity to 
discuss Ghor development projects with potential donors.  He 
echoed the MFA's recent request (reftel) for a high level USG 
official to speak at the conference. 
 
 
VILNIUS 00000462  002 OF 002 
 
 
¶6. (C) Comment: Our MFA and MOD interlocutors assured us that 
Lithuania's military commitment in Afghanistan is solid, 
notwithstanding Grybauskaite's recent statements.   However, 
her statements are clear indications of the government's 
concerns regarding its ability to continue financing that 
commitment. Should the economy continue to languish and more 
budget cuts loom, we expect intensified political pressure 
for Lithuania to reduce its presence in Afghanistan -- unless 
other countries are able to assist it. End comment. 
LEADER