Fearing Russia aggression, Latvia and Lithuania are boosting their defense spending after a meeting in Vilnius. Latvia, which shares a long border with Russia, is going up to 2 percent of GDP and Lithuania, which sits uncomfortably between Latvia, Ukraine, and Russia’s Baltic enclave (in which Moscow has been placing missiles lately), will commit 1.5 percent of GDP. Neither country was shy about naming names; they are worried about a Russian invasion, either conventional or, like in Ukraine, hybrid. Defense News reports:
Latvian Defence Minister Raimonds Bergmanis said that he and his Lithuanian counterpart, Juozas Olekas, also discussed sending Latvian military instructors to Ukraine to support that government’s battle against Russia-backed insurgents in the country’s east. Lithuania already has deployed military instructors to Ukraine.
Commenting on Latvia’s plan to raise its defense expenditure, Bergmanis said he hoped his country will “be able to take great strides ahead just like our neighbors did.” […]
Other issues discussed by the two officials during a recent meeting included a project to set up a mid-range air defense system to be operated by Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.
At the meeting, Olekas said some of the major areas for improving defense cooperation between the Baltic states include “countering hybrid threats and stepping up cooperation with Poland and the Nordic countries,” according to a statement released by the Lithuanian Defence Ministry.
Both of these countries are NATO members, and it speaks volumes that they are as worried about an invasion as they apparently are. It is good news, however, for both the world order and the U.S. balance sheet, if these commitments go through. If Latvia follows through on its decision, it will be merely the sixth NATO member to pass the threshold. More member countries need to start meeting their treaty goal of spending at least two percent of GDP on defense.