The US Congress adopted a 2.3 trillion defense appropriations bill, which foresees 168,7 million dollars of security assistance to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 2021. For the first time the security assistance is allocated through the newly created Baltic Security Initiative, which highlighted the security concerns of the Baltic region in US lawmaking.
‘The decision by the US Congress demonstrates that our strongest ally is committed to the defense of our region and understands the security challenges here. We highly value this decision and are ready to continue strengthening our defense cooperation with the US,’ said Estonian defense minister Jüri Luik. ‘The decision by the US Congress confirms that the United States sees Estonia and the Baltic States as trustworthy allies, who take their commitment to defense seriously by continuously investing into their own national defense capabilities and by contributing to operations overseas with allies,” added Luik.
According to the Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu the decision by the US congress and the addition of the Baltic Security Initiative in the Defense appropriations bill is noteworthy. ‘This shows the positive and tangible outcome of the long-term Estonian and US special bond. To achieve this our embassy in Washington has been working tirelessly to ensure that the Baltic countries have a place in the yearly US defense activities’ thanked Foreign Minister Reinsalu.
The United States has provided security assistance to the Baltic countries before, yet the decision by the US Congress to approve the initiative proposed in the spring of 2020 by the Baltic countries will greatly strengthen cooperation in developing new capabilities together. The US Congress’ decision directs the US Secretary of Defense together with the Secretary of State to submit a multi-year strategy and spending plan to outline the goals, objectives and milestones for the initiative, including in air defense, maritime situational awareness, ammunition, Special Forces, C4ISR and the benefits of such programs for deterrence.
The newly adopted Baltic Security Initiative demonstrates the United States’ long-term commitment to support the Baltic countries in developing their national defense capabilities. Earlier US security assistance has enabled Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to meet many of their military infrastructure and capability development goals ahead of schedule.
In addition to the US security assistance, this year there has seen a significantly larger presence of US forces in the Baltic region. During the course of 2020, multiple joint exercises between with the US Army, Air Force, Navy and Cyber Commands have strengthened the defense cooperation between the US and Estonia even further.
Additional information: press[at]kaitseministeerium[dot]ee