- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ukraine, Lithuania and Poland are planning to band together and form a joint military brigade, according to local media reports.

Lithuania Defense Minister Juozas Olekas told the Baltic News Service on Tuesday he met with the acting defense minister of Ukraine, Mykhailo Koval, who assured him that the country will soon sign the founding agreement for the brigade.

It was not immediately clear Wednesday afternoon what responsibilities and obligations the participating countries would incur.

Movement toward establishing the international brigade comes as the U.S.  military is expanding its land-based exercises in Eastern Europe. Those exercises will take place in two of the countries that are slated to merge their military forces: Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

About 600 U.S. troops will rotate in and out of the countries for about a month. Under the plan, additional exercises will occur on a recurring basis, according to the Associated Press.

Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said that training involving U.S. troops is “purely bilateral” and not part of a overarching plan to establish a training framework for the joint military brigade.

Currently, 150 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team are training with their Polish counterparts, he said. Additional Army companies are headed to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to conduct similar land-based exercises, according to the Associated Press.



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