Accessibility links

Baltic States Mull Joint Air Defense System

Defense ministers for the three Baltic states have discussed plans to develop a joint air defense system.

The ministers of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania met on May 28 in the northern Lithuanian city of Panevezys along with their Ukrainian counterpart amid tensions over Russia’s actions in Ukraine and the increasing activity of Russian forces around the Baltic region.

Speaking after the talks, Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas said the three ministers "plan to analyze the possibility of developing a medium-range air defense system."

"External threats lead us to cooperate more," he added.

NATO has been guarding the skies over the Baltic States since 2004, when they joined the alliance but lacked the air power to monitor their own airspace.

Earlier this month, the trio said it would ask NATO to deploy several thousand permanent troops in their region.

In an interview with the Associated Press news agency on May 27, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said his government wants a NATO battalion deployed in the country as a "security guarantee" — not a provocation against Russia.

Based on reporting by AFP, Reuters, and AP