Baltic Defence Ministers highlight deterioration of the security situation in Europe
On December 20 Latvia’s Defence Minister Artis Pabriks, Lithuanias’s Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas and Estonia’s Defence Minister Kallie Laanet condemned the efforts of Russia and Belarus to destabilize the security situation in Europe.
Ministers of the Baltic States condemn Russia's efforts to divide Europe into spheres of influence and deny sovereign countries’ rights to determine their own future. Any decision on possible dialogue with Russia cannot be based on Russia’s demands or preconditions. European and, especially Baltic security, has gravely suffered from such agreements and ultimatums in the past.
Baltic Defence Ministers also condemn Russia's efforts to limit the possibilities for Ukraine and Georgia to join NATO in the future. Defence Ministers worry about Russia's continued violations of weapons-control treaties, prompting the neighboring country to return to confidence and security-building measures. Restoring the transparency of the activities of the Russian Armed Forces can be a serious step towards a de-escalation of the situation.
Baltic Defence Ministers also point to concerns about the increased focus of Russian military forces on its borders with Ukraine. By expressing its unwavering support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Ukrainian state, Russia is called upon to respect international agreements by ending its illegal occupation of Crimea, as well as by stopping military support to separatist groups in the areas of Luhansk and Donetsk.
Given the legitimate concerns and the need to strengthen Ukraine's defence capabilities, the Ministers of Defence of the Baltic States stress their immediate readiness to provide non-military and military support to Ukraine, including weapon supplies.
Baltic Defence Ministers call for a common understanding and approach against attempts by Russia and Belarus to destabilize security in Europe, including the Belarusian hybrid attack using illegal migrants.
In response to the deteriorating security situation in the region amid the ongoing hybrid attack by the Belarusian regime and Russia’s hostile military activities on the borders of Ukraine, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will increase the readiness of their armed forces and take planning measures to respond to any kind of escalation.
As reported earlier, a build-up of Russian military forces near Ukraine's borders has been observed in recent months. The U.S. and EU have threatened Russia with strong economic sanctions in case it attacked Ukraine.
On December 17, Russia stated that it requests a legally binding guarantee that NATO would give up any military activity in Eastern Europe and Ukraine, part of a wish list of security guarantees it wants to negotiate with the West.
Moscow`s demands contain elements such as an effective Russian veto on future NATO membership for Ukraine. The demands would also imply the withdrawal of multinational NATO battalions from Poland and from the Baltic States of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
As reported before, on December 20-21, the Baltic Defense Ministers' Committee takes place in Kaunas, Lithuania to discuss the current security situation at the EU borders with Belarus and Ukraine.