Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid called for U.S. Patriot missiles and troops to be deployed to her small Baltic state Wednesday, saying it is necessary to make deterrence “believable” for Russia.
In an interview coinciding with her visit to the White House, the conservative leader said the deployment of American materiel and personnel would bolster existing NATO troop deployments — launched in response to Russia’s more bellicose posture.
“We want to be sure that both NATO’s territory and NATO soldiers are well protected,” she said.
“We need to make sure that there is the air defense and the air support for these forces, in case that is necessary. We need our deterrence to be believable.”
Kaljulaid said the proposed deployments had not come up on Tuesday in conversation with President Donald Trump — who is notoriously prickly about the use of U.S. military assets abroad — but talks between the two governments were ongoing.
“We are past the stage in our relations that you come to Washington with an empty goody bag and then you go back with a bag filled with stuff,” she said.
“There is a permanent debate and discussion between the governments of the two countries,” she added, listing Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Vice President Mike Pence as key interlocutors.
“We’d rather see that bilaterally we could agree to have some boots on the ground on a permanent rotational basis,” she said.