Defense ministry: No comment on U.S. special forces potentially in Estonia
According to The New York Times, the United States has sent special forces to the three Baltic countries in the past month. The Estonian Ministry of Defence said on Tuesday that the presence of U.S. Special Operations Forces (SOF) was not public information, and that they couldn’t comment.
“There has been direct military cooperation between the United States Special Operations Forces and the Estonian Defence Forces for years, and it will continue also in the future. The precise activities of U.S. Special Operations Forces here and the size of their unit is not public information,” a spokesman for the ministry told BNS on Tuesday.
After Russian actions changed the security situation in Lithuania for the worse, troops of the U.S. Special Operations Forces were stationed in Lithuania, the Lithuanian defense ministry confirmed on Tuesday.
Their presence would add to NATO’s military deterrent, and was a form of long-term cooperation with the U.S. forces. “After arriving in the region at our invitation, they will stay as long as the regional security situation requires it,” Asta Galdikaite, a spokeswoman for the ministry, told BNS.
The New York Times reported on Sunday that dozens of United States Special Operations Forces were now in the Baltic states to “bolster the training and resolve of troops who are confronting a looming threat from Russia”. The troops were also there to enhance the United States’ ability to detect Moscow’s “shadowy efforts to destabilize the former Soviet republics”, the paper wrote.
The Lithuanian ministry said troops of U.S. and Lithuanian special forces were actively taking part in various bilateral and multilateral military events and trainings across Lithuania and the region, which “helps improve mutual interaction, boost defense capacities, and demonstrates a strong U.S. commitment to our region”.
Chief of the Lithuanian State Security Department, Darius Jauniskis, who himself is a former special forces commander, told journalists at the Lithuanian parliament on Tuesday that “the deployment is a strong response to Russia, showing that NATO and other countries would not put up with Russia's aggression in the region”.