NATO's leadership decided to downsize the Baltic air policing mission in order to make rational use of resources, but Lithuania should not applaud it, as it reduces the Alliance's visibility, says political scientist Gražvydas Jasutis. Meanwhile his colleague Kęstutis Girnius believes that the reinforcement has already served its purpose of reassuring the Baltic states and the decision makes good sense.
© DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

"On the Lithuanian side, we should not welcome the decision, as it reduces NATO visibility and NATO capacities," Jasutis, a political scientist at Vilnius University's Institute of International Relations and Political Science, told BNS on Wednesday.

He noted that the mission was stepped up in the wake of the situation in Ukraine, which remains locked in the armed clashes.

"The decision is understandable in the rational sense; however, I do not realize the logic behind it – the cause has not disappeared. The conflict in Ukraine continues. In this case, there is no reason to diminish the air capacities," said Jasutis.

Gražvydas Jasutis
Gražvydas Jasutis
© Nuotr. iš asmeninio albumo

In his words, large NATO capacities in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia carries symbolic significance – demonstrates the Alliance's commitment to collective defence.

Meanwhile Kęstutis Girnius, associate professor at the institute, says that over the past years, NATO has already proven its commitment to defending the Baltic states – the decision to substantially reinforce the air policing mission in the Baltic states was made last year to demonstrate NATO's commitments to the three countries.

"The reason was to reassure the Baltic states that NATO is here, we support you and send reinforcement," Girnius told BNS.

He also said that the NATO air policing mission in the Baltic states was getting downsized because the Alliance had lately seen no actual threats from Russia, and the decision is reasonable and rational in the military sense. This is also the reason, in his opinion, behind NATO's delay of specific decisions on establishment of a permanent Allied brigade in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, a move requested by chiefs of defence of all three nations.

Kęstutis Girnius
Kęstutis Girnius
© DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

Girnius said that the decision to downsize the air policing mission in the Baltic states sent a signal to Russia about NATO's unwillingness to escalate the conflict. However, he added, this should not be viewed as a concession to Russia. In his words, NATO benefits from easing tensions in Eastern Europe and it will proceed with this, without, however, conceding to Russia and abandoning its commitments.

Earlier this week, NATO decided to diminish its air policing mission in the Baltic states from the current 16 fighter jets to eight starting September. Instead of the two current contingents stationed in Lithuania, only one will remain. Before the crisis in Ukraine, the air policing mission included four fighter jets deployed in Šiauliai, northern Lithuania.

It is prohibited to copy and republish the text of this publication without a written permission from UAB „BNS“.

Presidential candidates' teams trade accusations over campaign funding

The staffs of Ingrida Simonyte and Gitanas Nauseda , the two candidates vying to be elected...

Baltic countries and US agrees on cooperation format for energy security

President Dalia Grybauskaitė together with the Presidents of Latvia and Estonia met with the U.S....

Lithuanian experts: Zelensky calls snap election to avoid "sticks in his wheels"

Ukraine 's new President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday called a snap parliamentary election to give...

Early voting in presidential runoff, EP election starts

Early voting in the presidential runoff and the European Parliament election started in Lithuania...

Prosecutors: Ambassador to Russia might have committed official misconduct

Lithuanian prosecutors have changed the status of the country's Ambassador to Russia Remigijus...