The U.S. and Lithuania share a history as valued Allies and strong partners. The United States established diplomatic relations with Lithuania in 1922, following its declaration of independence during World War I. Lithuania was forcibly annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 during World War II. In 1990, Lithuania proclaimed its renewed independence and international recognition followed. The United States never recognized the forcible incorporation of Lithuania into the Soviet Union, and it views the present Government of Lithuania as the legal continuation of the interwar republic.
After Lithuania regained its independence, the United States worked closely with the country to help it rebuild its democratic institutions and a market economy. The U.S. welcomed Lithuania’s accession to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU) in 2004. As a NATO Ally and EU member, Lithuania has become a strong, effective partner committed to promoting democratic principles at home and abroad.
Defense cooperation remains the lynchpin of the U.S.-Lithuania bilateral relationship. From FY 2017-2022 the Department of State has provided $279.75 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) to Lithuania, as well as $8.9 million in International Military Education and Training (IMET) funding. From FY 2018-2022 the Department of Defense provided an additional $200.3 million in funding under Section 333. This assistance has enhanced Lithuania’s territorial defense capabilities, including electronic and hybrid warfare, border security, and maritime and air domain awareness. It has also promoted interoperability with the United States and NATO, and helped Lithuania support its security commitments abroad. In FY 2022, the United States provided $141 million in FMF – largely from the Ukraine supplemental appropriations. The increase in our contributions is due in part to the resurgence of Russian aggression since its 2014 seizure of Crimea and its renewed further invasion of Ukraine in 2022.
The United States has approximately $640 million worth of active sales cases for U.S-origin defense articles and services to Lithuania under the Foreign Military Sales program. Recent and significant sales are listed at the Defense Security Cooperation website, and include: Joint Light Tactical Vehicles; UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters; TPS-77 radars; and Javelin missiles.
From FY 2019 through FY 2021, the United States also authorized the permanent export of over $32.7 million in defense articles to Lithuania via Direct Commercial Sales (DCS). The top categories of DCS to Lithuania were Military Electronics ($24.1 million); Ammunition and Ordnance ($3.4 million); and Ground Vehicles ($2.3 million).
The United States and Lithuania have the following defense-related agreements: a Basic Exchange and Cooperative Agreement (1994); a Communications Interoperability and Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMOA) (1995); a Logistics, Supplies, and Services (LSS) Agreement (2006); a Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA) (2017); a Security Cooperation Roadmap (2019), and a Reciprocal Defense Procurement Agreement (2021). These foundational documents establish the framework for enhanced partnership and defense and security cooperation between the United States and Lithuania. Together with the NATO Status of Forces Agreement, they provide a comprehensive framework for security cooperation with Lithuania.
Since 2016, the United States and Lithuania have participated in the U.S.-Baltic Dialogue to broaden and deepen our range of security cooperation activities and address Baltic-wide security gaps. Lithuania is committed to improving and enhancing its military capabilities within NATO and surpasses the 2014 Wales Pledge for 2% defense spending as a share of GDP and 20% major equipment purchases as a share of defense spending. Responding to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Lithuanian government in March raised its 2022 defense budget by nearly 300 million euro to 2.52 percent of GDP, a level previously targeted for 2030.
Lithuania is committed to working closely with the United States and NATO to support Ukraine, transferring weapons to Kyiv and mobilizing significant humanitarian support to respond to the war. Lithuania has provided over 200 million euros in military equipment to Kyiv since February, which amounts to roughly $70 per Lithuanian citizen. This has included Stinger missiles, light anti-armor equipment, armored personnel carriers, and 105mm howitzers. Grassroots support for Ukraine is also very strong.
Since 1994, over 5,500 Lithuanian peacekeepers have taken part in various international peacekeeping and crisis management operations. This includes service in 14 current and former NATO, UN, and EU missions. Recent mission contributions include KFOR, EUNAVFOR Irini, MINUSMA, EU Training Mission Mali, Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, NATO Mission Iraq, EUNAVFOR Atalanta, and the EU Training Mission in the Central African Republic.
Through the 29-year-old State Partnership Program (SPP), the Pennsylvania National Guard continues to support Lithuanian Armed Forces modernization and development through support to cyber capabilities, land forces, and the future development of the UH-60M program.
For further information, please contact the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, Office of Congressional and Public Affairs at PM-CPA@state.gov, and follow the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs on Twitter, @StateDeptPM.