Polish, Lithuanian leaders meet NATO bottleneck troops


SZYPLISZKI, Poland — The Polish and Lithuanian presidents have planned to meet NATO troops on both sides of their border on Thursday to demonstrate the alliance’s defense readiness at a location seen as a strategically important bottleneck.

The 70 kilometer (43 mile) long Suwalki Gap is wedged between the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad and Belarus, an ally of Russia. It also connects Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia to other NATO members and drew particular attention during Russia’s war in Ukraine since several NATO countries border Ukraine.

Polish President Andrzej Duda and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda, accompanied by their countries’ Defense Ministers, planned to observe an exercise in Szypliszki, Poland, by a mobile command unit from the Multinational Division Northeast led by United States.

The two are then to travel to Mariampoli, Lithuania to meet a German-led logistics battalion.

At the urging of Poland and the Baltic states, NATO leaders decided at a summit last week in Madrid to drastically increase the number of troops in Eastern Europe. Battalions with hundreds of soldiers must be transformed into brigades with thousands of soldiers.


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