However, comments attributed in the report to General Raymond T Thomas of the Pentagon's Special Operations Command may raise eyebrows, as he describes Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania as "scared to death" and "desperate" for American leadership.
"They’re scared to death of Russia..They are very open about that. They’re desperate for our leadership,” Thomas was quoted as saying.
US and local special forces are working together, and their presence is known to Russia, Thomas added. The report says around a dozen US special forces troops are in each country.
Latvia's Defense Mnistry told LSM:
"Russia’s military activities, including large-scale military maneuvers, development of military infrastructure and creation of new military units are causing concerns about Russia’s intentions and long-term ambitions in the region. Given Russia’s unfriendly and sometimes even hostile rhetoric aimed at Latvia, this creates the necessity for Latvia to seek additional security guarantees and expand cooperation with its allies in response to Russia’s military buildup.
"Latvia develops its defense capabilities and steps up cooperation with its allies, including by ensuring allied presence in the region to counter the challenges created by Russia’s military activities.
"Still, being concerned about neighbor’s military activities doesn’t mean being scared to death."
Since 2014, in the frameworks of operation “Atlantic Resolve” there have been special operations soldiers participating in various military exercises.
The New York Times report came shortly after former Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves criticized international media on social media for routinely depicting the Baltic states as quivering in the shadow of Russia, describing such assertions as an oft-repeated canard.
But why do reporting when clichés, canards, silly memes and received ideas will do the trick and fill the page? @IlvesToomas— toomas hendrik ilves (@IlvesToomas) December 27, 2016
However, the direct quotations from the Pentagon top brass don't exactly help depict a more nuanced view of the defense situation in the Baltic states.
Clearly aware of the New York Times report, Ilves responded in laconic fashion.