Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia agreed on Friday to set up a common Baltic defense zone on their borders with Russia and Belarus amid growing security concerns.
The defense ministers of the three Baltic countries met on Friday in Riga to approve the construction of “anti-mobility defensive installations” on their eastern frontiers. They also agreed to develop missile-artillery cooperation.
Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur stressed the need for bunkers at the border, saying: “Russia’s war in Ukraine has shown that in addition to equipment, ammunition and manpower, we also need physical defensive structures at the border from the first meter to protect Estonia.”
Estonia will build 600 bunkers along its 294-kilometer border with Russia, with an initial budget of €60 million, according to Estonian public broadcaster ERR. Each bunker is designed to accommodate 10 soldiers. The Estonian defense ministry plans to begin bunker construction in early 2025.
Details of Lithuania and Latvia’s contributions to the common defense zone are yet to be disclosed. However, Lithuanian Defense Minister Arvydas Anušauskas underlined the ongoing collaboration with the U.S. in developing HIMARS rocket capabilities, a crucial aspect of their defense strategy.
Latvian Defense Minister Andris Sprūds highlighted the completion of Latvia’s military anti-mobility plan, set to be presented to the government at the end of January, involving various short- and long-term border strengthening measures.
Additionally, a cooperation agreement was signed between Estonia and Latvia for conducting NATO air policing from Latvia’s Lielvarde Air Base, compensating for the temporary unavailability of Estonia’s Ämari Air Base due to repairs.
The ministers’ meeting followed stark warnings from European leaders. German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius suggested in an interview with Tagesspiegel published Friday that a Russian attack on NATO could occur within five to eight years.
Admiral Rob Bauer, chair of NATO’s military committee, on Wednesday described the current global situation as “the most dangerous world in decades,” advocating for a transformation in NATO’s war-fighting strategy. Sweden’s commander-in-chief urged Swedes to mentally prepare for war, with Sweden’s Minister for Civil Defense, Carl-Oskar Bohlin, warning of the war’s potential arrival in Sweden.
Moscow has not yet reacted to the plans. Russian President Vladimir Putin in September accused the Baltic states of direct propaganda of Nazism, the same pretext the Kremlin used to invade Ukraine in February 2022.
Sergey Goryashko is hosted at POLITICO under the EU-funded EU4FreeMedia residency program.