Estonia PM calls for permanent NATO presence as bulwark to Russia

BERLIN Fri Jun 20, 2014 8:47am EDT

A worker sticks giant logos of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) outside Strasbourg's Congress Center March 27, 2009. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

A worker sticks giant logos of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) outside Strasbourg's Congress Center March 27, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Christian Hartmann

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas urged NATO on Friday to establish a permanent presence in the Baltic state in response to Russia's actions in Ukraine, telling his allies to "open your eyes and stay awake".

The Western alliance has tripled the number of fighter jets based in the Baltics as part of measures to beef up its defences in eastern Europe following Russia's annexation of Crimea.

The events in eastern Ukraine, where Russian-speaking insurgents using sophisticated weapons threaten to split the country, have put the whole former Soviet bloc region on alert and eager for NATO reassurance.

Asked if he would like to see a permanent mission in Estonia, Roivas told Reuters in an interview: "Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania are the border states, and it is only logical that air policing and air defence for example are present on the borders."

NATO's top military commander, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, said last month that NATO would have to consider permanently stationing troops in eastern Europe.

But some NATO allies argue that permanent basing of large numbers of troops in the east is too expensive, not a military necessity and needlessly provocative to Moscow.

Asked about the risk of antagonizing Moscow further, Riovas said: "Russia has done everything to break all agreements and has been very aggressive... we have the alarm bell ringing in Ukraine and I really believe that now is the time to open your eyes and stay awake."

NATO has arranged a number of short-term army, air force and naval rotations in Eastern Europe, but these are due to finish at the end of this year.

Long-term plans include training drills that will consistently keep about 100 U.S. elite troops on the ground at any one time in NATO states close to Russia, with teams working in several countries, a U.S. official said.

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Stephen Brown and Ralph Boulton)

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Comments (3)
umishkatani wrote:
i agree totally, NATO should establish full bases in the Baltics, in the Ukraine, and counter any Russian moves. Time to take Russia on fully as Reagan did. Obama is a woose.

Jun 20, 2014 9:46am EDT  --  Report as abuse
wootendw wrote:
If war breaks out in Europe, pro-Russian or Russian-speaking Estonians, numbering 25% of Estonia’s population, are likely to be confined in internment camps as typically happens in war. They should leave Estonia now and return to, or move to, Russia en masse. It will be too late one hostilities begin.

Jun 21, 2014 5:06pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
wootendw wrote:
Russia is not a threat to Europe or to US. With only 140m people and an economy less than 1/10 the size of NATO’s collective GDP, it is the other way around. Russia has a long and easily penetrable border through which armies from Europe have invaded several times in the past at great cost to Russia, both as an independent nation and as part of the Soviet Union. Russia, by contrast, has never invaded Europe except at the close of WWII when it was part of the Soviet Union (and controlled by non-Russians like Stalin). The Soviets were aided by the so-called ‘West’ and eastern Europe, exhausted, defeated and extensively damaged, was handed to them.

Since the Warsaw Pact was dissolved, NATO’s ‘borders’ have moved 1000m eastward and Putin is correct to alarmed. The obvious plan of NATO is to continue surrounding Russia and provoke Putin into an ‘irrational act’ which will bring about the final destruction of Russia and the slaughter or enslavement of its people and the exploitation of its vast natural resources. Russia’s only defense against the thugs in the West is its nukes, which will mean the end of all of US. Pleas stay strong Putin – or the nutcases in Washington will destroy us all.

Jun 21, 2014 5:17pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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