Baltic States to triple military expenditures
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have a plan to triple their military spending between 2014 and 2018. An estimated amount of $670 million will be spent on arms and other military equipment.
By 2020, it is estimated that the combined defense budget of the three Baltic republics will be $2.1 billion. This is more than double the amount of when the countries first became part of NATO in 2004. It is also the fastest growth in any region. This was reported by Reuters referring to prominent research and analysis firm, HIS Markit.
“We have seen political confrontation escalate to military assertiveness between Russia and the West over a two-and-a-half-year period. We do not see this ending anytime soon,” this was said by Alex Kokcharov, who is a principal analyst in the risk division of IHS Markit.
“This confrontation will likely include elements of military intimidation, which would concern Russia’s immediate neighbors,” Kokcharov added.
After Russia's 2014 annexation of the Crimea, Latvia and Lithuania agreed to increase military spending in order to reach NATO's informal target of 2% of the GDP by 2018. Estonia has already achieved this.
Each of the three Baltic republics host detachments of approximately 150 US soldiers, who were deployed immediately after Russia annexed the Crimea. The number of soldiers is sometimes increased by the occasional rotations of troops from other NATO allies. This number of soldiers will increase to approximately 1,000 per country next year.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaitė had previously referred to Russia’s transfer of Iskander missile systems to the Kaliningrad region as an aggressive demonstration of power against the whole of Europe.