Once Finland and Sweden join NATO, they can be expected to contribute to air security or the air defense and NATO's maritime groups, Estonia's Ministry of Defense said. According to EKRE MP and reserve Lt. Col. Leo Kunnas, Estonia's northern neighbors joining the alliance would help establish military balance in the region for the first time.
If and when Finland and Sweden are accepted as members of NATO, the process of reshaping the region's defense plans can begin. Having learned from the war in Ukraine, several countries have announced plans to bolster their defense forces. For the first time, military balance will be achieved in the region, said Kunnas, who is also deputy chairman of the Riigikogu's National Defense Committee.
"Now in a few years we'll be able to talk seriously — once these new plans have entered into force — about a credible military presence and deterrence in Northern and Northeastern Europe that is capable of balancing Russia's Western Military District and Belarus' forces," he continued.
The Baltics can first and foremost expect that their northern neighbors will help fill in gaps in capacity — and cooperation thus far may provide clues about what this may look like.
In 2018, for example, Ämari Air Base was included in Sweden's own domestic exercises, in which military jets flown out of Estonia and Finland played the part of aggressors attempting to invade Swedish airspace. During the exercises, 100 personnel and eight Gripen jets were present at Ämari. Planning of the Swedish exercises was carried out in cooperation with the U.S. and U.K., although their own jets were not involved.
"We definitely expect Finland and Sweden to fulfill their allied obligations just as Estonia and the Baltic countries have fulfilled their allied obligations, by contributing to NATO maritime groups, air policing and other NATO collective defense measures," said Kristjan Mäe, director of the NATO and European Union Department at the Ministry of Defense.
Kunnas said that the Baltic Air Policing mission should be developed into air defense, which would mean up to a dozen fighter jets based in each Baltic country.
Editor: Aili Vahtla