The Baltic States are sending missiles to Ukraine with US support


The Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will send US-made anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine, a move Washington says it fully supports amid Kiev’s escalating tensions with Russia.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a tweet on Saturday that Washington saluted the three NATO allies and former Soviet republics “for their longstanding support of Ukraine.”

“I have expedited and approved the transfer of defense equipment from NATO allies Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and we fully support Ukraine to strengthen its ability to defend against Russia’s unprovoked and irresponsible aggression,” Blinken said in one another tweet.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, earlier this week described Western arms sales to Ukraine as extremely dangerous and said they were “doing nothing to defuse tensions”.

Ukraine Russia
Members of the Territorial Defense Forces of Ukraine, volunteer military units of the Armed Forces, train in a city park on January 22, 2022 in Kiev, Ukraine.

Efrem Lukatsky/AP

Moscow has massed tens of thousands of soldiers on the border with Ukraine, prompting fears of an invasion. The West has rejected Moscow’s key demands – promises by NATO that Ukraine will never become a member, that Alliance weapons will not be stationed near Russia’s borders, and that it will withdraw its forces from Central and Eastern Europe.

A Friday meeting between Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov ended without a breakthrough.

In a joint statement released late Friday, the defense ministers of the three Baltic states said they “stand united in our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of ongoing Russian aggression.”

They said that Estonia would supply Ukraine with Javelin anti-tank weapons, while Latvia and Lithuania would send Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and other related equipment to bolster Kiev’s military defense capabilities.

“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 any way possible so that it can withstand the aggressor,” said Estonian Defense Minister Kalle Laanet.

It was not immediately clear when the weapons and equipment would be sent to Ukraine.

In another development, Estonia is seeking German approval to send Soviet-made howitzers that once belonged to East Germany to Ukraine. Estonia acquired the howitzers from non-NATO member Finland, which in turn bought them from Germany’s military surplus in the 1990s.

The federal government said on Friday it was considering Estonia’s request for the howitzers to be handed over to Ukraine, but gave no timeline for a decision. Berlin said it plans to coordinate the issue with Finland, which has received a similar permit application from Estonia.

Some recent media reports suggest that Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s cabinet has blocked Estonia’s arms transfers to Kiev, indicating the West’s tense response to the Ukraine crisis.

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