NATO’s top commander has warned Europe to beef up its air defenses over the Baltics in anticipation of a Russian invasion.
Tensions between NATO and Moscow has gradually worsened since the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation on 18 March 2014.
Currently there are just eight jets patrolling the skies over the Baltics and NATO commanders think that the numbers are not sufficient to deter a Russian attack in Europe.
The alliance is asking its European allies to prepare as a deterrence against a possible conflict, even though the preparation itself might be construed as an aggressive posture by the Russians, looking at it from the other side of the fence, that could lead to war.
The Daily Express reports:
NATO is planning its biggest build-up in eastern Europe since the Cold War to counter what the alliance consider to be a more aggressive Russia.
That could include a permanent presence of battalion-sized deployments of allied troops across Eastern Europe.
At a press conference in Lithuania, the country’s chief of defence Jonas Zukas said: “We no longer want multi-national forces to be present only as a measure of assurance or for political visibility.
“We want forces of deterrence, with a clear understanding that they would engage in case of a conventional attack.
“The air defence problem is real. It is obvious that in case of a military conflict neither four nor eight jets would be enough.”
Among the countries requesting beefed up defence are Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
The Baltics are also benefiting from around 600 US troops who have been present there since April 2014.
Moscow denies any intention to attack the Baltic states but its recent annexation of Crimea in 2014 fuelled worries that Moscow is planning further land grabs.
Philip Breedlove, outgoing NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe, said: “I think that the alliance does need to be ready for the air defence mission, and of course we as military men and women are looking at that capability.
“Air policing and air defence are meant for two different situations. The Baltic air policing is a peacetime mission.”
Thinking about war, leads to talking about war, leads to preparing for war which leads eventually to violence and war, which neither side wants, unless they are crazy or fanatical. Thinking about peace, leads to talking about it, which might not bring about peace, but prepares the ground, hopefully indefinitely, where crazies and fanatics will have a slippery job justifying their war like violent aggression by pointing away from themselves to the big powers and the bigger bullies.