Pandemic also affected military exercises in Baltic states

Spring Storm 2020 preparations.
Spring Storm 2020 preparations. Source: Ardi Hallismaa

The emergency situation affected the organizing of joint military exercises in the Baltics but they are now slowly being restored, the defense ministers of the Baltic states confirmed in Aluksne, Latvia. The pandemic also showed a need for more cooperation between the neighboring countries because threats to security have not disappeared.

Latvian and Lithuanian soldiers were also supposed to participate in the annual large-scale military exercise Spring Storm (Kevadtorm), but due to the coronavirus they were not able to participate. Meetings of the defense ministers of the European Union and NATO countries will take place digitally in the coming days.

ETV's daily affairs show "Aktuaalne kaamera" reported on Monday that Baltic defense ministers met in Aluksne, Latvia to specify details of cooperation.

Minister of Defense Jüri Luik (Isamaa) said: "Essentially we discussed trying to restore the cycle of exercise as fully as possible, but that is also dependent on the spread of COVID-19. Of course, it is important to Estonia that our soldiers are able to come here, to Latvia, to train in the many training areas. Latvia has large proving grounds that Estonia doesn't have. It is an unique resource that we want to actively use."

He said no exercises will be held until fall.

An explanatory sign that security threats have not disappeared is especially felt in Aluksne, where during an unsuspecting project near the Infantry School, cameras to supervise the lake would have been installed by a company controlled by the Russian authorities who would have also been able to supervise the school.

Latvian security authorities caught wind of the situation and the cameras were not installed.

Artis Pabriks, Latvian Minister of Defense, said: "Of course, everything is fine. As fas as I know, the local government organized a procurement and there was a suspicion that it was won by a Russian company. I understand that this problem is solved."

Pabriks is concerned with Estonia's desire to also open borders for third countries. Infection rates in Russia and Belarus are still high and according to the Latvian, opening borders to the East should be thoroughly considered.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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