The NATO Council decided to make permanent the air policing mission of the Alliance in the Baltic states with a periodic review of needs and activities, said the Lithuanian Minister of Defence Rasa Jukneviciene on Wednesday.
“This decision is final. Now the air policing mission of NATO will be permanent with a periodic monitoring of its activities, a review of its needs and necessary reorganization. This decision is very important to us,” said the caller agency.
The minister said the mission should be part of the “Intelligent Defense” (Smart Defense), an initiative to more effectively spend the funds in the context of austerity.
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 military airfield Zokniai.
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.