United States earmarks money for Baltic defense

The United States will allocate $125 million "to develop military cooperation between Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania" in 2020 according to a release from the Estonian Defense Ministry December 23.

The U.S. will also create a separate $50 million budget "to support the development of Baltic air defense," the statement said.

According to Estonian Minister of Defense Jüri Luik, strengthening the deterrence and defense posture in the Baltic States, including in the area of airspace and especially in the field of air defense, it is important for the whole NATO and for the United States.

"Our Ally clearly confirms its commitment to collective defense on Europe´s eastern flank," Luik said.

“The transition from air policing to air defense requires a common decision from all Allies, but the U.S. position and practical support are of great importance. We greatly appreciate the U.S. support for the development of our region's defense, ” Luik added.

U.S. President Donald Trump has already signed a U.S. National Defense Authorization Act bill granting aid to the Baltic countries.

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rimkēvičs expressed his gratitude.

Meanwhile the Lithuanian Defense Ministry has announced the joint procurement with Latvia of thousands of gas masks from the United Kingdom.

On December 12 the Lithuanian Defence Materiel Agency under the Ministry of National Defence signed a contract with Scott Health & Safety Ltd of the United Kingdom in order to supply the Lithuanian and Latvian Armed Forces with NBC gasmasks.

"The gasmasks are acquired in order to protect military personnel, they will be given out to troops deployed to international operations and missions, as well as to soldiers taking part in joint actions with NATO allies and partners, and units of the Lithuanian Armed Forces ensuring security internally... the procedure was joined with the demand of the Ministry of Defence of Latvia to acquire analogous gear — the Defence Materiel Agency was authorized to carry out the procedure on behalf of the Latvian colleagues too," the statement said.

“This procurement is an excellent example of neighboring countries coordinating common needs and completing joint acquisitions. That allows us to be sure that equipment used by the allies is compatible. Moreover, larger scope of procurement interests manufacturers to bid and to offer the best price,” Director of the Defence Materiel Agency under the MoD Sigitas Dzekunskas said.

Up to 9 ,000 gasmasks will go to the Lithuanian Armed Forces and 14,000 will to go Latvia, along with compatible filters. The total value of the acquisition is roughly 3 million euros.


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