Estonia plans to procure MLRS rocket systems jointly with Latvia, Lithuania

Defense ministers from Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia meeting in Kaunas on December 21.
Defense ministers from Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia meeting in Kaunas on December 21. Source: Ministry of Defense

Plans to procure M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) by Estonia's military will form part of a joint Baltic States' procurement, the defense ministers of all three countries said on Tuesday.

At a meeting in Kaunas, Lithuania, on Tuesday, the ministers  - Kalle Laanet (Estonia), Artis Pabriks (Latvia) and Arvydas Anušauskas (Lithuania) - agreed on a joint regional capability development project, which will lead to MLRS roll-out in all three Baltic states, the English-language portal of Lithuanian public broadcaster LRT reports.

The procurement, first publicly announced in Estonia early last week, will form part of a tri-lateral defensive cooperation project next year.

The ministers also condemned Russia's attempts to establish spheres of influence in Europe, and with it deny sovereign states' rights to determine their own future, and expressed the greatest concern over ongoing Russia's concentration of military forces around the border with Ukraine, the Estonian defense ministry reports.

The three ministers added that Russia's continuous attempts to limit Ukraine's sovereignty by claiming spheres of influence in Eastern Europe as well as claiming the right to put the restrictions on Ukraine's NATO membership, was also to be condemned, on the grounds that the Russian Federation has no veto on the decisions of sovereign states.

The ministers also reiterated unwavering support for the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, and called on the Russian Federation to start respecting international law by ending its illegal occupation of Crimea, as well as terminating the military support to Luhansk and Donetsk separatists regions.

Any decision on possible dialogue with Russia cannot be based on Russia's demands or preconditions, the ministers found.

European, and especially Baltic, security, has gravely suffered from such agreements and ultimatums in the past, they said.

The ministers also highlighted the importance of the continued and strengthened Allied military presence in Baltic States as an integral part of NATO's deterrence and defense posture in the region and commended Allies for their continued contribution to the enhanced Forward Presence battlegroups and the NATO Baltic Air Policing Mission in demonstrating solidarity and unity.

The three ministers also reaffirmed the commitment of Baltic States to strengthening international security through contributing to international missions and operations.

All three Baltic States are boosting their preparedness in the current situation and reaffirming their full dedication and commitment to close Baltic cooperation in security and defense, aimed at bolstering NATO's Eastern flank.

Further cooperation, interoperability and cost-effective use of defense resources dedicated to defense and the importance of speedy mutually supportive military activities in the region was also highlighted.

The M270 MLRS has a range of 350 kilometers, meaning, for instance, Estonia would have the capability to support Latvia where needed, or vice-versa.

M270s in U.S. service were deployed on exercise in Estonia in September 2020, the first time the U.S. military had done so in Europe, outside of Germany.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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