VILNIUS, Lithuania, April 16 (UPI) -- Lithuania is to begin negotiations with Germany over acquisition of an undisclosed number of Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled artillery systems.
Disclosure of the talks, to be held beginning in May, was made by Lithuanian Minister of National Defense Juozas Olekas following a meeting with German Federal Minister of Defense Dr. Ursula von der Leyen.
"The Federal Defense Minister and I discussed the possibility for Lithuania to buy Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled artillery systems from Germany and we have received a positive answer," he said. "That allows us to begin concrete negotiations in May that, let's hope, will lead us to acquisition of the so-needed capabilities in the nearest future."
Olekas also said Lithuania is interested in the possibility of purchasing infantry fighting vehicles from a German manufacturer.
Lithuania is located in the Baltics and was once part of the defunct Soviet Union. Like other Baltic states it is troubled and anxious over Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and continued Russian threats to the region.
Lithuania does not have an Air Force and depends on NATO countries -- Germany among them -- to provide security in its airspace.
"My German counterpart and I have agreed that the developments in Ukraine have not only changed the settled order in essence but have also given a new drive for our bilateral relations in the area of security, so that we would unify our capabilities and give an appropriate response to the emerging threats in the Baltic Sea region," Olekas said.