On April 4, during a visit to the White House Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid called to deploy US Patriot missile systems and ground troops in Estonia, stating it could be a deterrent device against Russia.
“We want to be sure that both NATO’s territory and NATO soldiers are well protected,” the Estonian president said. “We need to make sure that there is the air defense and the air support for these forces, in case that is necessary. We need our deterrence to be believable.”
Kaljulaid said that her offer had not come up during a meeting with the US President Donald Trump, as he seemed to refuse the US military assets abroad. However, the “permanent” negotiations between the countries are ongoing.
On March 28, Poland, another NATO member state, invested a $4.75-billion to purchase a Patriot missile system amid Moscow’s opposition to any deployment of US-made systems in Eastern Europe.
Russia rejects the deployment of Patriot missile systems, arguing that it goes against the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.
The INF treaty was signed between the US and the former Soviet Union on December 8, 1987. The accord covered deployed and non-deployed ground-based short-range missiles and intermediate-range missiles.
NATO has already dispatched a military group to Estonia with soldiers from the UK, France and Denmark, but Kaljulaid, stated that the deployment would bring another dimension to the project.
American soldiers have already participated in NATO’s so-called “Enhanced Forward Presence” mission based in Poland.
Russia considers such deployments as attempts to militarize the area near its borders.
Kaljulaid has mentioned the live-fire Russian military exercise in the Baltic Sea by outside of NATO waters. Estonian leadership branded that drill a “show of force”.
In July, 2017 the USA for the first time deployed Patriot long-range anti-aircraft missiles to the Baltics, which participated large-scale NATO military drills in Lithuania.