• Men of the Lithuanian Ground Forces.

Men of the Lithuanian Ground Forces. (Photo : Lithuanian Ground Forces)

Lithuanian president Dalia Grybauskaite again warns the west and NATO Russia is preparing for war and that its upcoming military exercise, "Zapad 2017" (West 2017) is an indication of this intent.

Grybauskaite described Zapad 2017, a joint military drill with Belarus (Russia's only militarily credible ally in Europe), a "demonstrative preparation for war with the West." She wants further assurances that NATO and the United States will stand with Lithuania against a Russian invasion.

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"We see that risks are increasing, and we are worried about the upcoming 'Zapad 2017' exercise, which will deploy a very large and aggressive force (on our borders) that will very demonstrably be preparing for a war with the West," said Grybauskaite.

"This means that we will be talking with NATO about creating additional standing defense plans, about stationing additional military means and about creating a faster decision- making process."

Russia described Zapad 2017 as a response to NATO's reinforcement of eastern European counties Russia has threatened to invade as Vladimir Putin seeks to resurrect the former empire of the defunct Soviet Union.

Lithuania said Zapad 2017 will be the largest foreign military drill along its borders.

NATO on Feb. 7 sought to allay Lithuanian fears by deploying soldiers of the German "Bundesheer" (the German Federal Army) to Lithuania as part of NATO's push to better defend Lithuania and the two other Baltic States, Estonia and Latvia.

The German battalion now on Lithuanian soil forms part of a 1,200-strong NATO multinational battalion that also includes French, Dutch and Belgian troops. NATO plans to deploy four of these multinational enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battalion battle groups throughout the Baltic States.

Also, the United States in January deployed the first contingent of a US. Army brigade combat team to Poland. This entire unit will number over 3,500 well-trained troops of the U.S. Army 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, U.S. 4th Infantry Division (3-4 ABCT).

Russia has repeatedly assailed NATO member countries along its western border for seeking NATO and U.S. military assistance to counterbalance Moscow's ongoing military build-up after its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in March 2014.