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British troops in Estonia as part of a NATO mission
These British soldiers are part of a NATO force in EstoniaImage: NATO

More NATO troops needed from 'Baltic to Black Sea'

February 10, 2022

Baltic leaders called for a bolstered NATO troop presence on the alliance's eastern flank. The call for an additional force presence comes amid a backdrop of escalating tensions with Russia over the fate of Ukraine.


Baltic leaders said the NATO eastern flank required a bolstered troop presence during a meeting in Berlin with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The three Baltic leaders, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda were in Berlin as European leaders and their US counterparts still hope to deter Russia from escalating tensions with Ukraine.

The three Baltic leaders sought to encourage Germany to play an increased role in security arrangements in the Baltic region due to Moscow's military build-up on Ukraine's borders.

Scholz warned Russia of "serious" economic, political and strategic consequences should it invade Ukraine. The German chancellor also reiterated calls for de-escalation.

What did Scholz say?

During the meeting, Scholz told reporters, "What is at stake at the moment is nothing less than preventing a war in Europe. We want peace."

After the talks, Scholz noted, "Russia should not underestimate our unity and determination as a partner in the EU and as an ally in NATO."

Germany has announced it will bolster forces in Lithuania as part of NATO's enhanced forward presence in the Baltics. 

What have Baltic leaders said?

Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins told DW, "We have, as we speak today, 10 NATO member states' militaries in Latvia," adding, "We don't feel a direct military threat."

Putin fighting against Ukraine's democracy: Latvia PM

He added Russian military posturing on Ukraine's borders has been destabilizing for the entire region.

"I think it's very important to strengthen NATO's presence along the eastern flank — that is from the Baltic down to the Black Sea," Karins said.

Estonia's Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said, "Our focus is on supporting Ukraine." She added, "De-escalation cannot come at gunpoint and at the expense of Ukraine."

Map showing NATO troops in Europe

Are there other reactions from the Baltic region?

NATO ally and Nordic-Baltic nation Denmark also said Thursday that it is prepared to host US troops on its soil as part of a new bilateral defense agreement with the US.

Denmark was on the frontline of the Cold War due to its Baltic coastline.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said her country's willingness to host a US troop presence was not prompted by Russia's military build-up on Ukraine's borders.

Russians cause anxiety on Gotland

ar/sms (AFP, Reuters)

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