Baltic states agree to build joint defense line on eastern border

Baltic states agree to build joint defense line on eastern border.
Baltic states agree to build joint defense line on eastern border. Photo: Sander Ilvest

The defense ministers of the Baltic states signed an agreement in Riga on Friday, according to which a defense line consisting of various defense structures is to be created along the three states' borders in the coming years, the purpose of which is to deter and, if necessary, protect against military threats.

Estonian Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur said that the Baltic defense line is a carefully considered and well-thought-out project, necessitated by the security situation.

«Russia's war in Ukraine has demonstrated that in addition to equipment, ammunition and manpower, we need physical defense structures on the border to protect Estonia from the very first meter,» he said, and underscored that the purpose of the structures is to prevent a military conflict in the Baltic region.

«We are doing this to enable the people of Estonia to feel safe, but should there be any risk, we would also be quicker to respond to any developments,» he added.

The concept of defense facilities stems from the agreements reached at the NATO Madrid summit, which call for new regional defense plans and for protecting allies from the first meter. The Baltic defense line is essentially a complex of obstruction and fortification measures, the elements of which on the terrain support the activities of defending units at strongpoints to, if necessary, halt the advance of aggressor units. The elements will be dispersed across the terrain, based on enemy and environmental analyses as well as the battle plans of the Estonian defense forces. The Baltic states constitute a single operational area, and the defense structures will be built jointly in coordination with Latvia and Lithuania.

In peacetime, the defense line will not contain any explosives, barbed wire, or other obstacles, but it will have a network of strongpoints and shelter positions. The entire process will be conducted in cooperation with the local communities and in agreement with landowners.

The Baltic defense ministers also signed a statement of intent regarding HIMARS multiple rocket launchers, the purpose of which is to create a framework for the joint use of the weapons system in both peacetime and wartime. The defense ministers of Estonia and Latvia also signed a cooperation agreement for conducting NATO air policing from the Lielvarde air base in Latvia while the runway in the Amari air base in Estonia is undergoing repairs.

In addition, the defense ministers also discussed supporting Ukraine, capability-building in the Baltic states and the upcoming Washington summit. The discussions also included cross-border defense cooperation of the Baltic states as well as the Baltic Defense College.