Decisions on Baltic air defence must be made faster – foreign minister
Lithuania's Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius has called for faster decisions on the air defence of the three Baltic nations.
"Air defence is one of the most important aspects of the planning of the defence system of the Baltic states. It is a challenge for all of NATO, which can only be overcome by uniting the efforts of the US and European nations. To create efficient air defence, we need to make immediate decisions and plan both national and NATO investments as soon as possible," Linkevičius said on Tuesday at the opening of a Washington conference on air defence of the Baltic region organized by Lithuania and the US.
Air defence is one of the weak spots of the Baltic states in the military sense. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia currently only have short-range missile defence systems, which can reach targets within 3-5 km. The countries are buying Norwegian missiles that will cover distances of a few dozen km and take down targets at an altitude of 15 km.
In order to ensure protection of the airspace, the Baltic states would need a shield of long-range defence systems, such as Patriot, in the third phase. Last summer, the United States stationed the missiles in Lithuania for the first time for training. Defence officials are considering a possibility of covering Lithuania's airspace with the Patriot systems to be purchased by Poland.