WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the crisis in Ukraine continues, Congressional members are looking at how Russia’s invasion impacts the security of the Baltic states. Many of which are NATO members.
“The future of our common security will be decided in Ukraine,” said Marko Mihkelson, a representative for Estonia on Foreign Affairs. “Putin must be stopped.”
As Russia continues to attack Ukraine, The US and other NATO allies have said that they are prepared to defend every inch of NATO territory, which include Baltic states like Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. All of them border Russia.
“I suspect if the three Baltic countries were not members of NATO, you might’ve already met Vladimir Putin’s armies,” said Rep. Steve Cohen (D- TN).
In a congressional hearing, representatives from NATO’s eastern flank said the attack on Ukraine puts them on high alert. They’re concerned Russia will turn their attention on them.
“Russia’s DeFacto absorption of Belarus means more than ever an increase in the Lithuania- Russia border which is a NATO-Russia border,” said Laima Andriikiene, a representative for Lithuania on Foreign Relations. “Increased military footprint in Belarus and its engagement in the war against Ukraine is a game changer.”
NATO’s Baltic states said they are working on building up their own defense efforts to deter any Russian aggression but said developing those capabilities take time and for now, they’re asking the U.S. to step up their defense efforts in the Baltic region.
“In particular by stationing additional substantial permanent combat forces, pre-positioning of U.S. military equipment and enhancement of our region’s air defense would significantly improve our security in our region,” added Andriikiene.
Members said they will support the region if they are under attack.
“We stand with you on your sovereignty and we’ll be there to protect the sovereignty of your countries,” said Sen. Ben Cardin (D- MD).
President Biden announced 800-million dollars in additional security funds to Ukraine. That money will go towards anti-aircraft systems, drones, body armor and other weapons.