Thursday, 9 February 2012

NATO Extends Baltic Air Patrols

The Washington Post and others report that NATO has decided to extend the air patrols it mounts over the Baltic States until 2018. These patrols are a largely symbolic measure of reassurance for the Baltics. This comes against a background of awkward relations between NATO and Russia, with the CFE Treaty in abeyance, and Russian concerns over NATO BMD plans leading to a deadlock in talks on cooperation and to increasing tension over tactical nuclear forces. The Baltic States are also amongst those who are most fearful of Russian intentions, for obvious reasons, especially as the US has announced a withdrawal of half its remaining forces in Europe - leading some Europeans to doubt their long term commitment to the region.

What this gesture highlights is that, should Russia wish to conquer the Baltic States (and there is absolutely no evidence they do) there is basically no way they could be defended. Genuine security for Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia lies in a long term improvement and normalisation of relations between NATO and Russia, not in the presence of 4 aircraft flying over their territory.

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