Estonian defense minister: NATO to deploy additional forces in Baltic states during Russia and Belarus’s Zapad 2017 drills
During the large-scale Russian and Belarusian Zapad 2017 military exercises, additional NATO forces will be deployed in the Baltic States, as stated on Thursday June 29 in Brussels by Estonian Defense Minister Jüri Luik at a meeting of the defense ministers of NATO member states, ERR reports.
“One topic which was discussed in great detail at this meeting was the Zapad large-scale Russian military exercises which will be held in September,” Luik said.
“All NATO early warning systems are ready to monitor these exercises,” he added.
According to the minister of defense, this does not mean that the NATO battalions already deployed in the Baltic States will be transformed into brigades, but these divisions need means of anti-air defense and logistical support.
“The goal is to make this battle group, which in itself is not a large military force, more effective and self-confident, and this requires a number of additional resources,” Luik said.
He explained that NATO deals with matters related to collective safety.
“We also know from numerous statements made by the United States that the US is planning to deploy additional defense personnel to the Baltics. Commander of the US Army, Lt. Gen. Hodges has spoken about this in detail,” the Estonian defense minister added.
By his assessment, such measures are justified.
“NATO states will adopt additional measures for the duration of the large-scale exercises in order to send a clear signal that we are taking this seriously and have the military means against any kind of provocations,” Luik stated.
In accordance with the decisions of the Warsaw NATO summit in summer 2016, NATO deployed multinational battalions consisting of approximately 1000 persons in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.
The “Zapad-2017” joint strategic exercises of the armed forces of Belarus and Russia will take place in the middle of September.