Given the relatively small size and huge financial spending on military needs in the Baltic region, there is a possibility of an increased risk of local conflicts between NATO and Russia, said Nikolay Mezhevich, president of the Russian Association of Baltic Studies, professor at the Department of International Relations of St. Petersburg State University.
At a press conference on January 22, Mezhevich noted that substantial corps of armed forces has been deployed on the border with Russia - in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Moreover, the army units that are part of the eastern NATO fist belong not so much to the Baltic states as to the leading states of the North Atlantic alliance.
"The Baltic region today has become the world leader in growth of military spending in percentage terms. For example, it is known from open sources that the same Estonia in 2018 is going to spend 2.45% of its budget on the army. Taking into account the fact that according to the old tradition some of the costs are hidden in other articles, I think that in fact this figure will be even higher," the expert said.
According to Mezhevich, since the armies in the Baltic region are located in a relatively small area, there is a possibility of accidental, technically provoked conflicts. "The eastern part of the Baltic Sea is very small, very close. As they say, when a plane flies, one of its wing hovers over Estonia, and the other over Russia or Finland," he explained. Mezhevich stressed that a possible military conflict could occur in close proximity to major Russian political, economic and demographic centers, as well as near the Leningrad nuclear power plant.
EADaily reported that last week there were military exercises in Estonia involving US B-52 strategic bombers. Within the framework of the exercises, mass air strikes were carried out for ground targets. The maneuvers were attended by airmen from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as well as NATO units stationed in the Baltic countries.