Three injured as NATO SUV crashes into car carrying Lithuanian students
The NATO SUV collided with the VW Passat on Tuesday afternoon as the military vehicle was turning off a minor road at around 50 kilometers per hour.
Preliminary reports suggest the NATO driver was at fault as he did not make way for the Passat according to the news portal Delfi. As a result, three of the students from a local college were hospitalized with head injuries and two of them were taken to Kaunus.
The driver of the Passat, another female student, as well as the two occupants of the NATO vehicle were unhurt.
The Lithuanian military confirmed the driver, a US soldier from the 2nd Battalion of the Minnesota National Guard, was sober and in uniform when the accident happened. After the crash, the driver and his passenger, also an American, jumped out of their vehicle to administer first aid to the girls until the ambulance arrived.
The US troops are in the country to take part in the ongoing Iron Wolf 2017 military drills, part of the broader Saber Strike exercises underway in the Baltic states and Poland.
The maneuvers, which began last week in southern, central and eastern Lithuania, are meant to test the capabilities of the German-led Forward Presence Battalion Battle Group, also comprising soldiers from Belgium, the Netherlands and Norway. Polish, Portuguese, British and American troops are also taking part in the drills which involve around 5,300 military personnel.
Russia has consistently warned that NATO’s military buildup along its western borders is a threat to its national security as well and jeopardizes regional stability. In February, Russian President Vladimir Putin blamed NATO for provoking a conflict with Moscow and using its “newly-declared official mission to deter Russia” as a pretext for its massive military expansion.