Expert on NATO air policing cut: The Guardian journalist fell for trap

Ämari air base (ERR)
8/4/2015 1:19 PM
Category: Defense

A recent piece by British daily The Guardian on a NATO plan to decrease air policing capabilities in the Baltics by half belongs in the 'bad journalism' category, says Diplomacy magazine chief Erkki Bahovski.

The article claimed NATO will be scaling back the number of military jets in the region, but Bahovski said NATO itself does not make such decisions alone, and all 28 member states, including the three Baltic nations, also have a voice. “If NATO had such intentions, then Estonia would know about it,” he told ERR radio.

He said the piece only cites one source, Lieutenant Colonel Jay Janzen, chief of media operations at NATO's Europe headquarters, and no comments from Washington, the Baltics or the main NATO headquarters.

The Guardian journalists Alberto Nardelli and George Arnett thought they had exclusive material, Bahovski said, but they instead fell into the trap. He said the article also insinuates that some NATO state heads are fueling war fears.

He said the Russian propaganda machine won points with the article, adding that it would not be a surprise if Russian media ran stories of NATO deserting the Baltics.

The Estonian Ministry of Defense said no decision to decrease Baltic air policing numbers has been taken. “NATO defense ministers will discuss the wider security situation, and prevention methods, in October and then decide if changes are needed. This may mean an increase in (military) presence, if the situation requires so – certainly the increased number of border violations will effect that decision, as NATO's task is to maintain the defense of its air space,” Liis Mure, deputy head of the ministry's NATO and EU affairs department, told Delfi.

Mure said Estonia is in talks with allies to extend the air policing mission at the Ämari airbase. The Guardian article claimed the number of NATO jets stationed in Estonia and Lithuania will be cut from 16 to 8.

J.M. Laats

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