Baltic States in Support of Ukraine

By Aaron Mehta

The defense ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania today announced they have received approvals from Washington to send US-made anti-tank weaponry to Ukraine, as the latter nation seeks to defend itself against a potential Russian invasion.

Estonia will provide Javelin anti-armor missiles, while Lithuania and Latvia will provide Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and adjacent equipment. Latvia will also send military meals ready-to-eat for the Ukrainian forces. It is not clear exactly when the weapons could arrive in Ukraine, but a statement from the three ministers pledged the countries would “co-operate to deliver weapons to Ukraine expeditiously.”

While Ukraine has already been building a stockpile of Javelin weapons, the inclusion of Stingers represents a new capability for the Ukrainian military, one that could take out Russian helicopters if needed.

American weapons sold to other nations require approval from the US to be transferred to a third-party nation. Hence, the three nations could not transfer the systems directly to Kyiv without approval from the Biden administration, which has faced calls to release more lethal aid to Ukraine.

“In light of Russia’s increase in military pressure in and around Ukraine, the Baltic States have decided to answer Ukrainian needs and to provide additional defence related assistance,” Estonian Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet, Latvian Minister of Defense Artis Pabriks and Lithuanian Minister of Defense Arvydas Anušauskas said in a statement. “This aid will further enhance Ukraine’s capability to defend its territory and population in case of a possible Russian aggression.”

Added Laanet, “Today Ukraine is at the forefront of separating Europe from the military conflict with Russia. Let´s face it — the war in Ukraine is ongoing and it is important to support Ukraine in every way we can so that they can resist the aggressor.”

In comments made this week at an event hosted by the McCain Institute, Pabriks made clear Latvia’s stance on dealing with Moscow: ““We don’t need to blink whenever Russians are threatening us. If you are like a boxer and when you enter that space, you must accept that you might be hit. The opponent also knows that and will be much more careful. Nobody wants war, war is bad. But we must tell Putin that if you want war you will get it and we will move forward.

Whether other European nations will also seek to transfer US-made weapons or simply provide their own capabilities to Ukraine remains to be seen.

For now, the commentary has largely been political. For instance, the Nordic Defence Cooperation group — Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden — issued a statement calling on Russia to de-escalate and stating that the nations support “Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and its right to decide its own foreign and security policy, free from outside interference.”

However, no materiel support was pledged during a Jan. 21 meeting.

This article was published by Breaking Defense on January 21, 2022.