Estonia Wants, Expects More NATO Troops on its Territory

US paratroopers arriving in Poland, April 23, 2014Estonia expects to see more NATO troops on its territory in reaction to what it fears will be Russian attempts to destabilize the former Soviet republic, the country’s defense minister said on Tuesday.

Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – with their own Russian-speaking minorities – have been increasingly worried that Russia’s annexation of Crimea – partly on ethnic grounds – could herald destabilization in their own region by Moscow.

“I would like to see more boots on the ground and planes in the sky and I think we will see more,” Sven Mikser, Estonia’s new defense minister, said in an interview with Reuters. . . .

Mikser said he expected to see more joint military exercises that emphasized NATO’s Article 5 – than any attack on one alliance member, was an act of aggression on all NATO members. . . .

“[Mikser:] I think we will have more high end, Article 5-type scenario exercises. Like collective defense scenario exercises rather than just peace-keeping or crisis-response operations.”

Mikser warned of the speed the Russian leadership could make and implement its decisions, unlike the EU’s and NATO’s need for consensus building across different countries

“We have to be on the alert. One thing that the Ukrainian crisis has taught us collectively is that the Russian leadership can take decisions very quickly,” Mikser said.

“Then we have seen Russia can move some of its assets around pretty rapidly and they can amass forces to a geographical location pretty quickly as they have done across the Ukraine’s eastern border,” he added.

Image: US paratroopers arriving in Poland, April 23, 2014 (photo: Sgt. A.M. LaVey/US Army)