In Moscow, defense expert and political analyst Ivan Konovalov described the stationing of US ground attack aircraft close to the Russian border as nothing short of a provocation.
“We have to see whether these A-10s are going to be armed with nuclear weapons… The Americans have around 200 B61 nuclear bombs scattered across Europe. Bringing them to Estonia would cause a major scandal. Russia will be the first to protest. Defending a country’s airspace is one thing, but ground attack planes target ground forces. Is somebody expecting a ground invasion there?” Ivan Konovalov told Sputnik on Friday.
Konovalov said he expected a further buildup of NATO and US forces close to Russia’s borders.
The Estonian government has offered the Ämari base as a facility to be used to conduct NATO’s Baltic Air Policing patrols. In April 2014 the mission began with the arrival of four Danish F-16s.
In September 2015, several Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighters were deployed at Ämari.