Baltic leaders are expected to ask the US to do more to deter Russian aggression at a meeting in Washington today, with US Russia relations topping the agenda.
The presidents of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia are visiting the White House to meet with US President Donald Trump to discuss “security, business, trade, energy and cultural partnerships”, according to a statement.
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Russia, the countries’ Eastern neighbour, will almost certainly be right at the top of the agenda.
Following his unequivocal election last month, Russian President Vladimir Putin remains as unpredictable as ever and the Baltic states fear he may move against them.
The Baltic states’ became increasingly concerned during Trump’s campaign about his unwillingness to criticise the Putin and his dismissal of the need for international defence group Nato.
However, in recent months, the Trump administration has adopted a harder line against Moscow, including the expulsion of 60 Russian diplomats in solidarity with Britain over the poisoning of former double agent Sergei Skripal.
In July Mike Pence, the US vice-president visited the Baltic countries and discussed the potential risk of Russian military aggression against the region.
No threat looms larger in the Baltic states than the spectre of aggression from your unpredictable neighbour to the east.
The leaders are expected to try and capitalise on this shift in attitude in today’s meeting, asking the US to help bolster their defences against Russia.
A Lithuanian official indicated that the three states would ask the US to send long-range anti-aircraft missiles to the region, which wants to be more involved in Nato’s European missile defence shield.
This includes four multinational battalions deployed to Poland and the Baltic states as protection against Russia.
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They are also expected to ask that US troops are stationed in Baltic states on a permanent rotational basis.
In March, Washington indicated that it planned to supply antitank missiles to the Ukrainian government to help it combat Russian-backed separatists. In December Trump also increased US military spending in Europe.
Raimond Vejonis, the Latvian president, said on Latvian television that he expects Trump to declare support for the security and independence of the Baltic countries.
Today’s summit will also discuss deals to import liquefied natural gas from Lithuania to the US to reduce energy dependence on Russia, as well as trade and economic cooperation.