The United States will allocate 125 million dollars to develop military cooperation between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania next year. It will also create, for the first time in history, a separate 50 million dollar budget line to support the development of Baltic air defense.
According to Estonian Minister of Defense Jüri Luik, strengthening the deterrence and defense posture in the Baltic States, including in the area of airspace and especially in the field of air defense, it is important for the whole NATO and for the United States.
"Our Ally clearly confirms its commitment to collective defense on Europe´s eastern flank," Luik said.
According to Luik, the U.S. support for the transition from air policing to air defense of the Baltic countries, is extremely important.
“The transition from air policing to air defense requires a common decision from all Allies, but the U.S. position and practical support are of great importance. We greatly appreciate the U.S. support for the development of our region's defense, ” Luik added.
In addition, the bill includes a solidarity clause, which confirms the United States' commitment to the Baltic region and assigns the Pentagon to write an analysis of defense assistance.
Air defense is more multi-layered than air polcing, consisting of a well-functioning early warning system, surveillance capabilities and anti-aircraft weapon systems, as well as well-qualified personnel capable of conducting anti-air operations that current air policing does not allow.
U.S. President Donald Trump signed U.S. National Defense Authorization Act bill granting aid to the Baltic countries last Friday.
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