22:53 GMT28 November 2020
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    US Defense Department announced Monday that four-and-half million US dollars could be allocated to a US Air Force sponsored Baltic air policing initiative with NATO partners.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Four-and-half million US dollars could be allocated to a US Air Force sponsored Baltic air policing initiative with NATO partners as part of the $789 million for the European Reassurance Initiative, the US Defense Department announced Monday in its $585.3 billion defense budget proposal.

    “These missions demonstrate Air Force’s continued commitment to European security and solidarity with other NATO allies. This initiative includes funding for the provision and maintenance of 24/7 air policing capabilities over the three Baltic States and adjacent international airspace,” the Defense Department said outlining the budget proposal.


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    The program will help Baltic NATO members Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia improve their capability, readiness, and responsiveness to deter against aggressors in the region, the Defense Department said. The NATO Baltic air policing initiative has been in place since the three Baltic States joined the alliance in 2004.

    NATO has accused Russia over the last year of multiple sorties in the Baltic region as relations between the West and Russia have deteriorated over Ukraine. In January NATO's top commander, General Philip Breedlove, said the alliance aimed to strengthen exercises and defences in the Baltics.

    A report last year by the European Leadership Network said there has been a sharp increase in incidents between Russian and NATO militaries. The report said “events add up to a highly disturbing picture of violations of national airspace, emergency scrambles, narrowly avoided mid-air collisions.”

    NATO has been strengthening its military presence along Russia’s western border amid the Ukrainian crisis, which the alliance claims Russia is involved in. Moscow has repeatedly stressed that it is not involved in the situation in Ukraine and has expressed concern over the build-up of NATO forces along its borders.



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