VILNIUS, Sept 23 Reuters - The top U.S. Army general in France said on Thursday the United States and Lithuania would work to preserve the continent's peace no matter who positions what, after Belarus and Russia held war games and setup military training centers.
Christopher Cavoli, the commanding general of the U.S Army Europe and Africa, added in answer to reporters' questions that the United States and its allies were paying close attention to the Joint training and combat centre for Russian and Belarus.
Cavoli was visiting Vilnius during a visit to Lithuania where he talked about regional security with Lithuanian general Valdemaras Rupsys.
The Zapad 2021 military exercises took place on Russia's and Belarus' Eastern flanks, including sites close to the borders of the European Union, and their proximity has unsettled neighbors including Lithuania, Poland, and Ukraine.
The Russian president Vladimir Putin denies that drills are directed against any foreign power and says they are sensible given increased NATO activity in Russia near Russia's borders and those of its allies.
Asked about the joint training and combat center established by Belarus and ex-Soviet ally Russia, Cavoli replied that America and its allies pay close attention to it, as part of their overall monitoring of the position of forces inside Europe and on its peripheries.
We keep an eye on things and we make sure that in any eventuality, no matter what positions people take, where, that we take that into producing deterrence and continuing peace inside of Europe, he said.
Belarus has maintained close economic and military ties with Russia, while Western countries have ostracised the country since Alexander Lukashenko cracked down on mass protests that erupted after he won a disputed presidential election.
Rupsys said he and Cavoli discussed common actions in case of a crisis or a war The United States has deployed a battalion of troops and equipment in Lithuania, including Abrams tanks, in rotations since late 2019.
We discussed the security situation in Lithuania, U.S. forces presence in the region, common exercises and common actions in case of a crisis or war Mupsys told reporters, adding Cavoli assured him that United States and Lithuania would act together in face of a threat Rupsys told reporters.