Merkel pledges military support to Baltic states

  
Latvia's Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel arrive to attend a wreath-laying ceremony in Riga, 18 August 2014. REUTERS
Latvia's Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel arrive to attend a wreath-laying ceremony in Riga, 18 August 2014. [Reuters]

Germany's Angela Merkel promised the Baltic states yesterday (18 August) that NATO would defend them, although it would not send permanent combat troops, but would increase manoeuvres in the region.

Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania - former Soviet republics with their own Russian-speaking minorities - are increasingly anxious that the conflict in Ukraine and Russia's annexation of Crimea could herald destabilisation in their own region by Moscow.

The Baltic states have asked for an increased NATO presence to reinforce Article 5 of the alliance's constitution, which states that an attack on one of its members is an act of aggression against all, obliging them to react.

"I want to stress that [...] Article 5 of the NATO treaty - the duty to provide mutual support - is not something which just exists on paper, but is also something which must be filled with life," said Merkel on a visit to the Latvian capital, Riga.

NATO's top commander said over the weekend that the alliance would respond militarily if Russia tried to infiltrate troops into a NATO country.

Merkel told a joint news conference with Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma that Germany would start "air policing" flights in Latvia from 20 August.

"But we must also now supplement this with further exercises and manoeuvres, so that we can react swiftly and without hesitation," she said. "Everything must be done so that we have the infrastructure in the Baltic states to react quickly."

Merkel said NATO leaders would discuss this at their summit in Cardiff on 4-5 September and she expected them to reach a unified position.

"We won't have a permanent stationing of combat troops but we will boost our participation in other ways [...] we will do what it takes to guarantee that, should Latvia come into difficulties, NATO will be able to help straight away," she added.

Latvian premier Straujuma said Russia's actions in Ukraine had "fundamentally changed the security environment in Europe".

"Trust has been lost. We all have to adjust ourselves to the new conditions and we must give a clear response," she said.

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Comments

Joe Thorpe's picture

She's writing cheques she doesn't have to cash again. Without putting German boots on the ground what exactly is she committing germany to? I don't see her throwing the Luftwaffe at the Russians?

Jay's picture

NATO is a defensive force, used only when another member is attacked.

Jay's picture

"what exactly is she committing Germany to?" Good question because she may very well find herself alone.

The casual acceptance of neo-Nazi elements, symbolism and ideology in Latvia and Estonia, whereby, the state supports honors for those countries’ Waffen SS divisions does not bode well among Americans. In Lithuania, state-sponsored shrines to the Lithuanian Activist Front (LAF), killers who unleashed the Holocaust on Jewish neighbors before the first German soldiers arrived.

These ostentatious kinds of Nazi worship will not be tolerated whether it is hero-worship of Hungary’s Miklós Horthy, leaders of Croatia’s Hitlerist Ustasha, the Nazis’ Waffen SS divisions in Latvia and Estonia, or the likes of Ukraine’s Bandera and his OUN and UPA, and the Waffen SS. It is an offense to American values that a NATO or EU state would disburse state funds on the distortion of history, obfuscation of the Holocaust and construction of societies that admire the worst of history’s racists.

Jay's picture

Did Euractiv deliberately leave this paragraph out?

Deutsche Welle:

"I absolutely understand the concerns of the populations in Latvia, but also in the other Baltic states, and Poland, too," Merkel said, adding that the alliance had to "prepare itself" in case the need arose to act on the defensive pact. "These preparations must be stronger than we thought necessary a few years ago."

Note that last sentence is political speak for: "Boy did we ever screw up by not funding NATO like we should have."

" Article 5 of the alliance's constitution, which states that an attack on one of its members is an act of aggression against all, obliging them to react."

How did that work out in Afghanistan?

Jay's picture

In my personal opinion, I believe Putin is looking to the past for a model for the future. That's what makes him dangerous and unhealthy for the Russian people. I also believe that Poroshenko's government is illegitimate in the way it came to power and severely plays fast and loose with democratic values.

The larger question looming on the horizon is weather the social fabric that holds the Atlantic Alliance together will remain intact. War weary Americans have had enough war and their governments propaganda against Russia is beginning to fray.

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