This is how the Baltic defense should be built up against Russia

In January, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia agreed on a joint plan to build an extensive network of fortifications – intended to deter a Russian invasion.

Estonia, with a roughly 330-kilometer border with Russia, is now planning to build around 600 underground bunkers that it hopes will prevent a hypothetical occupation by Moscow. It writes Newsweek.

The project will cost roughly SEK 680 million, says Susan Lilleväli, Undersecretary for Defense Preparedness at the Estonian Ministry of Defense, at a press conference.

– In addition to equipment, ammunition and manpower, we need physical installations to defend our countries effectively. These installations serve, first of all, the purpose of avoiding military conflicts in our region, as they can potentially change the enemy’s calculus, Lilleväli said, according to Newsweek.

Every inch must be defended

Back in 2022, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said the country would be “wiped off the map” if Russian forces invaded.

The new Baltic defense line is in line with NATO’s updated “forward defense posture and deterrence through denial,” Lilleväli stated at the press conference, “with the aim of defending every inch of allied territory at all times.”

– The installations will deny the enemy the opportunity to quickly advance in the territory of the Baltic countries and, in the event of military incursions, stop the enemy’s progress already at our borders.

Grouped along border crossings

The fortifications will be grouped around the border crossings of Narva in the north and Võru in the south. The overall intention is to ensure readiness “to fight the enemy from the first meter and the first hour.”

The goal is for the first bunkers to be in place at the beginning of 2025.

At the same time, NATO forces in Latvia are preparing to receive Swedish soldiers in one of the first operations once membership is complete. The goal is to scale up to a brigade of 4,000, in Riga’s forests.

Last Friday 19:40

NATO force in Latvia welcomes Swedish soldiers when membership is complete

This is how Sweden can contribute

No formal decision has yet been taken, but the Swedish Armed Forces are preparing to send roughly 600 soldiers to Latvia. Military personnel from Sweden are something one hopes for at the Ādaži defense base.

– They are trained to work in this terrain. I think it will be very easy for the Swedes to get into this context and help deter Russia from attacking, says Jette Albinus, Commander-in-Chief of NATO’s Multinational Division North, to TV4 Nyheternas Magnus Wennerberg, on location in Riga.

The Kremlin has no interest in invading Latvia – or any European country. That was claimed by Vladimir Putin in the criticized interview with American Tucker Carlson. The words do not calm ÖB Jette Albinus.

– As a military man, I am a little more skeptical. Putin said something similar before the attack on Ukraine. What characterizes the defense is that we are always prepared for the worst. And we should probably be now too, she says.