Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine on Monday said a joint brigade of 4,000 troops would be operational next year, as the region maintains a wary eye on Russia and its role in the Ukraine conflict.
“The multinational brigade is a sign, symbol and very clear signal to anyone who would want to undermine peace in Europe,” Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said in a ministry statement.
While Lithuania and Poland are NATO and EU members, Ukraine is not but has been a part of the defense alliance’s Partnership for Peace eastern outreach program since 1994.
Macierewicz spoke after meeting with his counterparts from Lithuania and Ukraine, Juozas Olekas and Stepan Poltorak respectively, in the eastern Polish city of Lublin.
“We see this brigade as a driving force that will improve our army,” Poltorak said, quoted by the Polish news agency PAP.
He added that “the brigade will be fully operational in 2017”, while the Polish ministry statement said the military unit would “reach its full combat capability in January 2017.”