Baltic states to provide training areas for NATO air forces

Fighter jets at Ämari Air Base.
Fighter jets at Ämari Air Base. Source: Kaitseväe Peastaap /

Defense ministers from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on Tuesday agreed to increase the opportunities for NATO air forces to train in the region's air space.

The three ministers signed an agreement in which they agreed to promote Baltic air space for NATO air activities.

It aims "to pursue cooperation on the continued provision and, if required, rapid enhancement of airspace solutions suitable for NATO training".

This will enable air forces to train and carry out more exercises in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

They also agreed to "ensure the highest flight safety standards and improve civil-military collaboration between the Baltic States". 

Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur (Reform), Latvian Defense Minister Inara Murniece and Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas signed a joint statement at the alliance's summit in Vilnius in the presence of NATO Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoana.

"We see what is happening now in Ukraine and we need to look at what we can do to defend our countries and our peoples. This declaration shows that the Baltic States are ready to do more and intend to work together to develop air defense," Pevkur said at the ceremony.

"Our legal framework is flexible to create the necessary air force training areas and they meet NATO conditions. We also have excellent cooperation with the civil aviation forces and have already organized large-scale allied air exercises," he added.

The joint statement also encouraged Allies to participate in the air defense rotation scheme, which will remain in place until Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania can procure their own.

Spain's NASAMS system is based in the region on a four-month basis until August.

The 31-member alliance has agreed to improve air and missile defense posture on the eastern flank.

"This is a step forward to ensure better preparedness to rapid transition from peace to crisis and conflict," the joint statement said.

NATO's Air Policing Unit is also based on a rotational scheme in Estonia and Lithuania.


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Editor: Mait Ots, Helen Wright

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