News / Europe

US Reassures Baltics Against Russian Threat

  • At Estonia’s Amari Airbase, a Danish F-16 fighter jet takes off from a newly renovated NATO standard base. Waiting to take off is a Soviet era AN-2 biplane, one of two fixed wing aircraft in Estonia’s fledgling air force. (Vera Undritz/VOA)
  • A Danish F-16 in a new hangar at Amari. Four Danish F-16s are training out of Amari, part of a program that has cycled American and British pilots and planes through Estonia’s main air base. (Vera Undritz/VOA)
  • Lt. Col. Rauno Sirk, commander of Estonia’s Amari Airbase, welcomes NATO pilots to the base, which has gone through $100 million in construction, since Russian troops left in 1994. (Vera Undritz/VOA)
  • At Almari, barracks in rented containers hosted American troops in May. They are kept ready for new NATO troops that will arrive later this year. (Vera Undritz/VOA)
  • A container barrack for women at Almari. (Vera Undritz/VOA)
  • Symbolizing the millenial military confrontation between East and West in Estonia, a Swedish-built fortress stares across the Narva River at a Russian-built fortress in Ivangorod, Russia. (Vera Undritz)
  • Brian J. Diebold, commander of the US Navy destroyer, USS Oscar Austin, at the U.S. Embassy in Tallinn, Estonia. (Vera Undritz/VOA)
  • U.S. Marines present the colors at the Fourth of July party in a tent on the lawn of the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Tallinn, Estonia. (Vera Undritz/VOA)
  • Lt. Col. Kyle A Reed, leader of a company of U.S. Airborne troops, was one of dozens of uniformed American soldiers mingling with Estonians at a Fourth of July party in Tallinn. (Vera Undritz/VOA)
  • At Tallinn’s new Seaplane Harbor Maritime Museum, Estonia teaches a new generation of Estonians about their 20th century history of defense. (Vera Undritz/VOA)
  • At the Maritime Museum, Estonia’s flag flies off the bow of the freshly restored icebreaker Suur Tõll. During its century in existence, this German-made boat has passed through the hands of Czars, Soviets, and Estonian nationalists. (Vera Undritz/VOA)
James Brooke

At a new NATO-standard airbase in Estonia, four F-16s train over the Baltic Sea, sometimes coming within 100 meters of Russian war jets that tail them.

The new $100 million base flies flags of the countries of NATO pilots who have trained here recently: Poland, Estonia, Britain, Denmark and the United States.

The training helps ease concerns here in the Baltics, unnerved by Russia’s annexation of Crimea in March and its arming of separatists in eastern Ukraine. The three Baltic nations – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – were ruled by Moscow for nearly half a century, only winning their independence in 1991.

At an early celebration of America’s Independence Day, in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn, U.S. Ambassador Jeff Levine talked to a crowd about America’s, and NATO’s, commitment to defend this small country:

“The United States, both as a friend and as an ally in NATO, is committed to Estonia’s security,” Levine said. “In the last four months, we have had boots on the ground, planes in the air and ships at sea.”

Mingling in the crowd of almost 1,000 Estonians were uniformed soldiers from an American airborne regiment and sailors from the USS Oscar Austin, an American destroyer anchored near Tallinn.

Brian Diebold, commander of the Navy ship, described the NATO naval exercises recently completed off Estonia.  “It can be characterized as 28 ships, 14 nations -- and one team finished,” he said.

Almost half of NATO’s 28 member countries sent ships, he said: “Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, there was Lithuania, Latvia, France, Demark, Germany, the UK, the U.S.  I can’t even remember all 14 of them.”

In honor of traditional July 4 festivities, an Estonian choir sang the American anthem.

Estonia’s gratitude to the U.S. and NATO has grown in direct proportion to its fears about Moscow, most recently following Russia’s March annexation of Crimea and its ongoing support for pro-Russian secessionists in eastern Ukraine.

At Estonia’s Defense Ministry, Mikk Marran, the permanent secretary, said the three Baltic nations have watched in alarm as Russia has rearmed in recent years. He said much of Russia’s military modernization has been concentrated near the Baltics.

“The conflict in Ukraine showed us pretty clearly that Russia is willing, and Russia is able to move the forces pretty quickly,” Marran said.

The three Baltic nations are members of NATO, and all are banking on that mutual defense treaty to protect themselves against Russian aggression. Marran praised the NATO training maneuvers here as sending a clear message of deterrence to Moscow.

“We have to send constant messages to the potential adversary that they should not even think about doing something similar to Crimea or the eastern part of Ukraine, in Estonia,” he said.

For now, Estonia’s defense strategy centers on holding off Russia long enough for the big firepower to arrive from NATO. In coming weeks, the Estonians are placing a large order of American anti-tank weapons.

You May Like

Conflicts Engulf Christians in Mideast

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Phone, Internet Surveillance

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Ben
July 03, 2014 2:02 PM
Same as it reassured Ukraine for its nuclear disarmament? Is that why the U.S. is so reluctant now sending Ukrainian troops mere night vision goggles? All these so called reassurances are worth nothing. That's the lesson Ukrainians have learned.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Polish Ghetto

When the Nazi army moved into the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid