In its efforts to deter Russia, Baltic States are discussing potentially increased presences of NATO troops on their soil with its allies in the Western military alliance, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said on Wednesday, without giving any details.
Formerly Baltic members of the USSR bloc, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia have long sought more NATO involvement to act as a deterrent.
They’re all members of the European Union and NATO since 2004 – forming a kind of NATO peninsula – and therefore have worries especially following the massing of troops by Russia on its border with Ukraine despite Moscow denying any aggressive intent.
After Russia annexed the Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, NATO has deployed just over 1.000 in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, and Poland – a total of around 5.000 troops – but Kallas said they’re now talking a possible boost to the existing detachments.
She believes that despite the ongoing purportedly constructive talks between the US, NATO, and Russia over the Russian demand for security guarantees, Moscow needs to be reminded there would be a high price to pay in terms of economic sanctions if it escalates the situation in Ukraine.
Following those talks, NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg also said any Russian attack on Ukraine would spur a decision to increase the number of alliance troops in the Baltic countries, in the eastern part of the alliance.
According to a NATO diplomat insisting on anonymity, NATO defense ministers might discuss the issue of increased deployments in the Baltics during their scheduled meeting in mid-February.