An extraordinary meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC) at the level of Defence Ministers was held via secure teleconference on Wednesday 15 April 2020. The meeting was chaired by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and was focused on the member states' response to COVID-19.
The Alliance is particularly concerned with the situation in Lithuania. Thus, in relation to COVID-19 outbreak among NATO troops in Lithuania, a group of military medics from Croatia, Germany and the Netherlands was urgently sent to this country to monitor the situation and provide the necessary medical assistance to the infected personnel. According to their report, the situation with COVID-19 spread within the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group in Lithuania is catastrophic.
It is said that this state of affairs resulted from failure of the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence to take necessary measures to combat the spread of coronavirus.
It is reported that hospitals in Lithuania are overwhelmed, short-staffed and ill-equipped as the outbreak continues.
According to the latest data, more than 200 doctors in Lithuania diagnosed with COVID-19, about 1.5 thousand medics with the COVID-19 symptoms are in isolation and under supervision.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg underlined that the organization should pay special attention to the health of its troops. "NATO's focus is on how to save lives," he said.
Earlier, several deaths of NATO soldiers in Lithuania were reported. The accidents took place mostly due to the failure of the Ministry of Defence to take the necessary measures timely.
The NATO leadership sent an official letter to the Lithuanian Ministry of Defence, informing about the decision to withdraw the international contingent from the country in May. These measures were proposed by Croatia, Germany and the Netherlands.
This letter caused immediate reaction from Lithuanian Minister of Defence Raimundas Karoblis, who said that NATO abandoned Lithuania at such a difficult time. Lithuania, in its turn, will stop to fulfill its obligations and will reconsider its plans to increase defense spending.