U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Dec. 14 applauded Lithuania for refusing to be influenced by Beijing over the Taiwan issue. 

At the Pentagon on Dec. 14, Austin praised Lithuania as a beacon of democracy and an important example for other nations to look up to as it resisted Beijing’s pressure. 

The Defense Secretary said, “We know that you have been retaliated against because of your principled decision.”

Lithuania, a European country in the Baltic region, installed a Taiwan representative office in its capital in November. Beijing, which has been trying to reclaim Taiwan, quickly downgraded diplomatic ties with the country.

China also warned Lithuanian multinational companies that they would be unable to export to China. To this, Austin reassured that the U.S. would stand with the Baltic state and support its defenses.

At the Pentagon meeting, Austin announced that the U.S. and Lithuania were signing an agreement on arms sales and improving their military interoperability.

Speaking with Austin, Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Enushaskas said he understood the brutality of an authoritarian government, having grown up in the Soviet era. 

Enushaskas said he saw how “fragile such a regime is, and how dictators are afraid of their own people.”

Enushaskas says that the close relationship between the U.S. and Lithuania is the best deterrent against authoritarian leaders and their tactics. He said he was pleased that the U.S decided not to reduce the number of troops stationed in Europe because this was a critical security measure for the continent.

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