Latvia, Estonia Seek ‘Boots on the Ground’ from NATO

DMs Want Large Deployments as Soon as Possible

by Jason Ditz, March 30, 2014

The secession and annexation of Crimea has been used as a catch-all excuse for myriad officials across the region to try to push their own pet agendas on the international community. Today, it’s Latvia and Estonia’s turn.

The tiny Baltic states are both pressing heavily for NATO to get more involved in operations in their countries, with each saying they need Western “boots on the ground” to stave off a Russian invasion.

Estonia sees Russia’s airbase in Pskov as proof they are a target. By contrast, Russia portrayed the airbase as a counter to NATO’s aggressive expansion in the region, incorporating the Baltics and courting other nations on the Russian frontier.

Latvian officials’ view of the threat is even more bizarre, seeing their comparative tolerance of their ethnic Russian minority as a disadvantage compared to Estonia and Lithuania. Many locals, particularly Russians, find this a perplexing argument, noting relations with Russia seem just fine.

In the end, the talking points are being pushed by the defense ministers of two nations with trivially small militaries, who see hyping the threat and getting NATO troops into the country as a path to making their portfolios more relevant than they realistically deserve to be.

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