The leaders of NATO states, meeting in Chicago, decided to make permanent the air policing mission of the Alliance in the Baltic States, announced the press service of the Lithuanian Minister of Defense in a statement on Monday.
“All the Heads of State (NATO members) have agreed to extend the air policing mission, based in Siauliai. During the discussion, the majority of country leaders strongly supported the mission. It is important that this mission has been cited as an example of “intelligent defense”, among other projects, such as missile defense, “said the Lithuanian Minister of Defense Rasa Jukneviciene, quoted in the press release.
Moreover, according to Minister, Hungary and the Netherlands have expressed their desire to join the mission, while Luxembourg has offered financial support.
Former Soviet republics, the Baltic countries do not have aircraft equipped to control the airspace. Therefore, since their entry into NATO in April 2004, this control is exerted by their alliance partners. Allied fighters are based in the Lithuanian Zokniai military airfield near the city of Siauliai (northwest of the republic)
In 2009, the Atlantic Alliance has decided to extend its mission to patrol the skies of the Baltic states until the end of 2014. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have always hoped that this mission be extended until at least 2018, it becomes more permanent.