Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen was in Lithuania today hoping to reassure former-Soviet Republics and current NATO members Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia in the wake of August’s brief war between Russia and Georgia. During the visit, Admiral Mullen said it was clear that NATO had an obligation to defend the Baltic states from any future military incursions.
The Baltic states have taken the conflict in the Caucasus very seriously and have pressured the European Union, of which they are also members, to issue several new demands regarding Russia’s military presence in the breakaway enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Lithuanian defense chief Lieutenant General Valdas Tutkus is encouraging NATO to conduct more military exercises in the Baltics.
Admiral Mullen said the visit was meant to send “a very visible message of reassurance.” He also took the opportunity to once again hit out at Russia for its part in the Georgia conflict saying “certainly what they just did was unacceptable and should not happen again.”
Russia opposed the admission of the Baltic states into NATO, concerned that it would bring US military forces closer to its border. Russia froze all military ties with NATO in August, after the US and other members condemned Russia’s military retaliation in South Ossetia.