Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania want to increase deterrence against possible Russian military action
The Baltic states have begun discussions to increase the number of NATO soldiers on their territories, due to a perceived threat posed by Russia, the Prime Minister of Estonia revealed on Wednesday.
Speaking to news agency Reuters, Kaja Kallas explained that her nation has serious concerns and wants to have extra troops on the ground as a means of deterrence. Alongside Latvia and Lithuania, the three Baltic nations are former Soviet republics, and each shares a border with Russia.
“Of course, we are discussing with our allies to increase their presence here to act as a deterrent,” Kallas told Reuters. “If you look at the map, the Baltic states are a NATO peninsula and, therefore, we have our worries.”
The Baltic state’s request comes as tensions between NATO and Russia remain high. Worries over possible conflict have risen in recent months, with Moscow being accused of placing around 100,000 troops on its Western border, near Ukraine. Some NATO leaders believe Russia is preparing for war.
According to Reuters, the Baltic states laid out their demands at a meeting of the bloc in Brussels on Wednesday.
“If Russia once again uses force against Ukraine and further invades Ukraine, then we have to seriously look into the need to further increase our presence in the eastern part of the alliance,” said Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary-General of the US-led bloc.
NATO initially boosted its troop presence in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland in 2014, following Russia’s reabsorption of Crimea.
Earlier this week, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov met with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to discuss a potential security deal. Moscow wants American diplomats to sign a legally-binding document promising that NATO will not further expand eastwards towards the Russian border, which would formally rule out admitting both Ukraine and Georgia, two countries that both wish to join the bloc.