US Defense Secretary William Perry is currently visiting Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia as the head of a 30-strong Defense Department delegation. Perry is conferring with the three countries’ presidents and their foreign and defense ministers on US military assistance, both directly and in the framework of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program. Multilateral projects under discussion include a joint Baltic airspace control system and the formation of the joint Baltic Battalion. Bilateral projects include US assistance in cleaning up former Soviet military bases, courses for Baltic officers in US military colleges, and agreements with each country on exchanging and protecting military information and on US expert assistance to the Baltic defense ministries and general staffs. (12)
The visit appears to presage a greater US role in Baltic area security, on a track parallel to and potentially faster than NATO’s hypothetical enlargement in the region. The host countries for their part have indicated that they are discussing with Perry the recent Russian threats of military countermeasures to NATO’s possible enlargement. A last-minute addition to the agenda is Baltic concern over Moscow’s demand to increase its force deployment in the Pskov and Leningrad regions, situated near the Baltic states, beyond the level stipulated in the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe.
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