Estonia Calls for Patriot Shield to Deter Russia in Baltic Region

Dutch Patriot battery deployed in Turkey, Jan. 25, 2013Patriot missiles are needed in the Baltic states to deter a Russian invasion, Estonia’s defence chief has warned.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Lieutenant General Riho Terras, Estonia’s commander-in-chief, said an inadequate air defence capability made the Baltic region vulnerable to a Russian lightning attack. Nato needed to consider increasing the number of warplanes it has based in the region, and plan for the deployment of Patriot batteries.

“Of very great importance is our self-defence capability … what we need [for that] is air defence capability,” said Gen Terras. “We need to be ready and we need to look at what we need to do. Russia behaves opportunistically. If they have the opportunity, they’ll jump through the window to take it….”

Nato military chiefs say Russian missile systems in Kaliningrad have carved out an “A2AD bubble”, making it hard for the alliance to manouevre its forces anywhere in the area, even deep within its own territory.

For example, it would be too risky to deploy the Spearhead rapid response force, the 5,000-strong brigade established in 2014, in most of Poland or anywhere in the Baltic region in the event of a conflict with Russia, alliance generals believe.

The Baltic states cannot develop an A2AD capability on their own, said Gen Terras and need Nato to do so. “At the least, we need to be trained to get [Patriot missiles] here quickly … and to know where to position them, if not to have them based here [permanently] like it was the case in Turkey,” he said.

Image: Dutch Patriot battery deployed in Turkey, Jan. 25, 2013 (photo: Royal Dutch Air Force)