VILNIUS (Reuters) -NATO must improve its defences of the Baltic nations, the most vulnerable part of the military alliance, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told a news conference on Tuesday.
“This includes, on land, establishing a permanent, increased forward presence. In the air, establishing a credible defence posture. And a sense of urgency in developing NATO’s upgraded defence plan,” Kallas said after meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg.
The three met at Estonia’s Tapa Military Base as Russia warned Kyiv residents to flee their homes on Tuesday and rained rockets down on Kharkiv.
Kallas pledged her country will “continue to provide significant military, financial and humanitarian aid” to Ukraine.
NATO has established Enhanced Forward Presence battlegroups in each of the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania in 2017, after Russia annexed the Crimea peninsula from Ukraine.
The battalions are meant to buy time by resisting an attack while reinforcements arrive, and are set to almost double to more than 6,000 soldiers since the beginning of the year.
The three states, once ruled by Moscow but now part of the European Union and NATO, do not operate fighter aircraft and NATO countries operate Baltic Air Policing mission with jets authorized to identify any approaching unidentified aircraft.
“Although there is no direct military threat at our borders, NATO must take a leap now and adapt rapidly to the new security situation. We must move from ‘forward presence’ to forward defence, and from ‘air policing’ to air defence,” said Kallas.
(Reporting by Andrius Sytas; editing by Terje Solsvik and Jonathan Oatis)