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.”
Full article: Merkel pledges military support to Baltic states (EurActiv)