Russia believes that intentions to expand the Ämari Air Base in Estonia are a provocative step, says a statement of the Russian Foreign Ministry received by EADaily. The statement was made as NATO is holding its drill in the region.
“We have taken note of a recent statement by Colonel Jaak Tarien, Commander of the Estonian Air Force, on plans for the infrastructure expansion of the Ämari Air Base in light of increasing NATO air requirements by adding areas that were intended for civil aviation,” they say at the ministry.
“Considering persistent rumors regarding the need for the additional permanent military presence of NATO countries, primarily the United States, on the so-called “Eastern Flank”, we interpret the Ämari plans as an openly provocative step aimed at destabilizing the situation in a region that has been one of the most stable militarily in Europe,” runs the statement.
“We are surprised by the ease with which the Estonian authorities have sacrificed civilian facilities to NATO’s policy of accelerated militarization of the Baltic states,” the foreign ministry concludes.
It is worth mentioning that the Ämari Air Base is used by NATO forces for providing the air-policing mission in the Baltics. Since 2004, when Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia joined NATO, to the crisis in Ukraine, the mission was performed by four fighters basing in Lithuania. Within last year and a half, the alliance sent 16 fighters to the Baltic region, eight of them to Lithuania, and by four to Estonia and Poland. From September, four and four fighters were left on duty in Lithuania and Estonia.