US defense aid to Baltic States up $10 million in 2022
The United States is to provide US$180 million in defense aid to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 2022, the defense ministry has announced.
Defense minister Kalle Laanet (Reform) said: "The U.S. has taken a clear initiative in the current security crisis by supporting its NATO eastern allies, Ukraine, and by bringing Russia under the international spotlight."
Congress last week adopted a $1.5 trillion budget package which includes the US$180 million the U.S. will provide to the Baltic States this year, a rise of more than US$10 million on last year.
Laanet said that: "Congress' decision demonstrates the U.S. is committed to the protection of our region and clearly understands that the defense of their own country also begins with the Baltic States."
"We have decided to increase [Estonia's] national defense spend by an extra €380 million, and discussions are underway on additional funding," he added.
Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets (Center) also welcomed the U.S. decision.
She said: "This is a practical proof of U.S. commitment to the protection of our region," adding that America's commitment to Article 5 of the NATO treaty remains in place, while Article 3 remains important also.
Article 5 defines the casus foederis and commits each member state to consider an armed attack against one member state, in Europe or North America, as constituting an armed attack against all.
The less well-known Article 3 enshrines the principle of resilience.
U.S. defense assistance to Estonia has long been significant and has continued to grow in recent years, while reinforcement for the Baltic States' region as a whole includes F-35 fighter jets, AH-64 attack helicopters, Patriot air defense systems and the deployment of ground troops, the Estonian defense ministry notes.
The annual Exercise Saber Strike, which this year focused on air defense and included maneuvers involving several international partners is one further example of the commitment, the ministry said.
The assistance has also helped Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to fast-track several of their military infrastructure and capability development projects faster than planned.
The concept of a permanent U.S. base in the Baltic States has also been under recent discussion.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte