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Russia's Aggression Raises Concern Over NATO Members Becoming More Vulnerable to Military Attack

Randy Mancini 6 Jun 29

TALLINN, Estonia - Officials in three strategic Baltic countries are sounding the alarm, appealing for more military assistance to fend off mounting aggression as war in Ukraine enters its fifth month.

NATO's eastern flank is home to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Like Ukraine, all three share borders with Russia. 

"In our corner of the world, one should always be aware of the threats coming from Russia," Kaimo Kuusk, Estonia's ambassador to Ukraine, told CBN News.

Kuusk says in his mind, Vladimir Putin is at war against freedom in Ukraine and along Russia's borders.

"He's afraid of freedom. He really thinks that freedom can be dangerous, and his end goal definitely is to turn Ukraine's path, to take the country, piece by piece," Kuusk said.

As Moscow continues its onslaught, there is fear that the Baltics could be Putin's next military target.

"It's foolish to believe that you can talk, to have open discussion on the table, with this kind of terrorist," Marek, a resident of Tallinn, Estonia, told CBN News.

All three countries are part of NATO and the European Union, yet there's unease here in Tallinn, that they, like the others, are unprepared to go toe-to-toe with Russia.

Estonia's Prime Minister recently warned that her country's historic capital would be "wiped off the map" if Russia attacked.

Despite their small sizes, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, have helped Ukraine since Russia's war started.

Estonia's contribution to the war in Ukraine has been rather significant given just how tiny this Baltic nation is. 

It's roughly about 1.3 million in population and the latest figures from the ministry of defense show that they've given nearly $250 million in humanitarian and military assistance, including the highly effective Javelin anti-tank missiles.

The 30 members of NATO will meet in Madrid this week, promising to bolster the defense of the Baltics.

"We will strengthen our forward defense. We will enhance our battle groups in the eastern part of the alliance up to brigade levels," said Jens Stoltenberg, NATO secretary-general, earlier in the week.

Stoltenberg added that the military alliance will dramatically increase the size of its rapid reaction force from 40,000 to 300,000 troops. All will be placed on high alert following Russia's invasion.

"This constitutes the biggest overhaul of our collective defense and deterrence since the Cold War," Stoltenberg said.

Still, anxiety grows by the day in towns like Kyrbarta, near Lithuania's border with Russia, as residents see more images of Russian atrocities in Ukraine.

"My feelings of fear are because of the war, as all people here in Lithuania," said Irina Duleva, a resident of Kyrbarta. "It's a normal thing given what is happening in Ukraine right now. I'm just thinking always, remembering always about it."

While French troops recently conducted a military exercise in Estonia, U.S. forces have also been beefing up their presence on the continent.  

There are 100,000 American troops in Europe today, up from about 65,000 in mid-February, just before Russia invaded Ukraine.

"Putin wanted to weaken the rules-based international order, but instead he galvanized the world by his actions," said Lloyd Austin, U.S. Secretary of Defense.

But now the question is whether this will be enough to stop Putin from venturing beyond Ukraine's borders.

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