Preparing for the upcoming NATO summit in July, Baltic States Foreign Affairs ministers met with US President’s National Security Advisor John R. Bolton in Washington . They asked US to expand international NATO battalions with air and naval forces and to send Patriot missile systems to ensure Baltic air space defense.
A month ago Donald Trump held his first Baltic Summit. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid and Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis asked the US to send Patriot long-range anti-aircraft missiles more frequently for war games. They also want to become a part of NATO’s larger European anti-missile shield.
Increasingly the three Baltic leaders also requested to send more US troops on permanent rotational basis to deter Russia.
The matter of fact the Baltic states are not simply recipients of NATO’s aid; they are also active supporters of US foreign policy. Since joining the alliance in 2004, the Baltic countries have participated in NATO missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. In addition, they are hosting NATO battalions in their countries as part of a broader bid to deter Russian aggression.
All three Baltic states have gradually increased their share of GDP on defense since 2010. Estonia was one of only five NATO allies that met the benchmark of 2 percent spending in 2017; Lithuania and Latvia have already reached the target this year.
It is interesting to note that a public opinion poll last year showed two-thirds of Lithuanians did not trust the US president and in 2016 Vilnius artists painted a mural depicting Mr. Trump passionately locking lips with Mr. Putin.
But the public mood changed after Mr. Trump decided to provide anti-tank missiles to Ukraine to defend against Russia-backed separatists and to boost funding for US forces in Europe.
According to an announcement from the White House the United States plans to provide nearly $100 million to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania for the procurement of large-caliber ammunition and $70 million for training and equipping their forces.
“The United States continues to improve defense and security infrastructure in the Baltic region, strengthen Baltic national resilience efforts, and build defense capacity through security assistance programs such as Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and International Military Education and Training (IMET),” the announcement reads. “The Baltic States have together traditionally received about $3.5 million annually in IMET assistance to allow 150 students to attend formal training at military academies in the United States.”
By the way US financial aid will go to purchase American used old weapons. Then Baltic states will be obligated to train the staff that will cost much more.
For example, the Baltic republics have also been purchasing American military equipment, such as Javelin anti-tank missiles.
The Latvian Defense Ministry reported, National Armed Forces next year will receive three unmanned aircraft systems RQ-20A Puma produced by American AeroVironment company. The system worth more than USD 3 million (EUR 2,435,658) will strengthen the army’s monitoring and surveillance abilities.
Also Latvia is to purchase used M109 155mm “Paladin” self-propelled howitzers from Austria. Austria in its turn bought them from the UK which had previously bought the guns made in the early 1960s from the US. They were upgraded and have been kept in storage since around 2007. And so on.
It’s simply business’ rule: if you want to make money, at first you have to invest.