US ready to defend Baltic states amid Russian threat, Defense Secretary Austin assures

17 February, 11:56 AM
Lloyd Austin spoke about the support of the Baltic countries (Photo:Ints Kalnins/Reuters)

Lloyd Austin spoke about the support of the Baltic countries (Photo:Ints Kalnins/Reuters)

The United States is ready to defend the Baltic countries amid a growing threat from Russia, Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin said during a visit to the Baltic state of Estonia, local outlet ERR reported on Feb. 16.

"I want to make one thing very clear to the Estonian people today," he said.

“The United States remains steadfastly committed to the freedom and sovereignty of our Baltic allies. And we stand united with you to deter and defend against any threat to our shared security.”

The defense chief emphasized that he came to the country at a critical time for Europe and the world — on the eve of the anniversary of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

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"As the Ukrainian people fight so bravely to defend their sovereignty, they remind us that we can never take freedom for granted," he said.

“Now, Estonians understand that very well. And Estonians know how important it is for all countries to stand up for a free and sovereign Ukraine. You've experienced the Kremlin's aggression firsthand.”

Austin also stressed that Estonia demonstrates leadership in supporting Ukraine. The secretary of defense added that Tallinn continues to make important investments in its own defense.

"Your strong defense spending and procurement of new capabilities are crucial in deterring attacks against NATO," Austin said.

“The United States stands beside you as a friend and as an ally. You can see that commitment in our recent deployment of U.S. forces in Estonia, including the HIMARS multiple launch rocket system and our infantry.”

At the end of 2022, NV reported that the United States intends to increase its permanent military presence in the Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. In particular, a HIMARS platoon and an infantry company were sent to Estonia, and the United States will participate in the formation of a NATO division in the country.

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