The US to increase security assistance to the Baltic states

The US Congress disclosed on 20 December the government funding legislation for 2023, the defence budget of which includes an allocation of USD225 million as part of the Baltic Security Initiative, which is larger by USD45 million, or 20 per cent, than in 2022.

In total, the United States will support countries that have been affected by Russia’s aggression with USD350 million as part of its defence budget, according to the Estonian defence ministry.

“This decision is a clear example of the United States’ long-lasting and steadfast support to the Baltic states. We’ve made important progress this year in increasing our defence spending and fostering our defence, and the US support helps us develop our independent defence capability even more,” the Estonian defence minister, Hanno Pevkur, said. 

The secretary general of the Estonian foreign ministry, Jonatan Vseviov, said this was an important step that results from long-term work from Estonia’s part.

“The US decision to increase defence funding for the Baltic states shows that our strategic allied relationship is strong,” he said and thanked Estonia’s partners in the US and his colleagues in Estonia who have made it possible.

Additional forces and capabilities from the United States have also arrived in Estonia, which greatly strengthens our defence posture and increases not just our security but that of the entire region as well,” Pevkur added.

The US Foreign Military Fund contains an allocation of €140.5 million for Estonia, which is close to 14 times more than previously. The funds will largely be used for acquiring high mobility artillery rocket systems – the HIMARS.

A United States infantry company arrived at Taara base in Võru as part of a deployment to train and serve with the 2nd Infantry Brigade of the Estonian Defence Forces. Photo by the Defence Forces.
A United States infantry company arrived in December 2022 at Taara base in the Estonian town of Võru as part of a deployment to train and serve with the 2nd Infantry Brigade of the Estonian Defence Forces. Photo by the Defence Forces.

Other states bordering Russia supported

In addition to the Baltic states, support will also be allocated to other states that border Russia – with USD35 million going to Poland, USD30 million to Romania, USD20 million to Bulgaria and USD40 million to Georgia. The funding is project-based and the implementation of projects will be coordinated by the United States European Command.

An additional sum of USD300 million dollars will be allocated to Ukraine, in addition to the USD9 billion that has already been made available to the country.

Created in 2020, the Baltic Security Initiative enables the United States to support the development of independent defence capabilities of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well as their interoperability in a more systematic way. Last year, USD169 million was allocated to the Baltic states as part of the initiative.

With the US security assistance, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have been able to implement several of their military infrastructure and capability-building projects faster than initially planned. The main focus has been on the development of special operations, air defence, ammunition stockpiles, marine situational awareness and long-range indirect fire capability.

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