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Russia's neighbors work to strengthen defenses against Russia beyond NATO

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  • Russia’s neighbors are building up their defenses in preparation for an attack.
  • They say we need to move ASAP. So we need to move beyond NATO.
  • Estonia’s defense minister said: “We are not just sitting here waiting to see what NATO does.

Russia’s neighbors watch Ukraine’s aggression with concern and are trying to act as quickly as possible to strengthen their own defenses and reach new agreements beyond the NATO structure.

Countries in Eastern and Northern Europe, which border Russia, have fought wars with Russia before, and once fought for independence from the Soviet Union, have repeatedly warned . That’s an unlikely scenario.

Given its close proximity to Russia, some countries say they need to quickly strengthen their defense systems and prepare as quickly as possible. This requires action outside the vast fabric of NATO.

The defense minister of Latvia, a NATO member and Russia’s neighbor, told Insider in July that he wanted to mandate military service in case a Russian attack were so sudden that NATO could not respond immediately.

“Even if we are a member of NATO, our first challenge and danger comes from a very quick attack from Russia,” said Artis Pabriks.

“Of course, we have calculated how many troops Russia can assemble at our borders in 24 or 48 hours. .”

“Ready to fight”

Countries close to Russia have also introduced a series of policies and agreements in response to Ukraine’s aggression, including new defense pacts between Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Iceland. and an agreement on military build-up between Poland and the Czech Republic.

Estonia’s Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur told insiders that he was satisfied with the steps NATO was taking, but said of Estonia and its Baltic neighbors, “We are sitting here asking what NATO is doing. I’m not just waiting to see if I can do it,” he said.

He said Estonia has invested about $800 million in its defense this year and hopes for more, and said it wants to double the size of the country’s volunteer defense force. rice field. Estonia is in dialogue with its neighbors and Pevkur said it wants a significant new defense pact to help deter Russia.

“Estonia must be ready to fight,” he said.

NATO is stronger than ever

The deals being made aren’t the ones normally made through the NATO structure, but they are important as countries seek to beef up their defense capabilities.

Edward R. Arnold, a European security researcher at the Royal United Services Institute think tank, told Insider that countries are not taking NATO lightly and are making deals that are in line with what the region needs. Told. Not to join NATO in any way, but to address very specific regional security requirements. ”

Indeed, support for NATO appears to be growing.

Sweden and Finland have applied to join the alliance and will be approved soon after reaching agreement with Turkey on some terms.

And member states say they want more help from NATO. For example, some have been calling for more NATO troops in their country for months. Their numbers are increasing, but they are not as fast as the country would have liked, nor are they all that they hoped it would be.

high speed movement

In fact, despite that support, some NATO members admit that its size means it’s hard to get things done.

Estonian Prime Minister Kaya Karas told Foreign Policy in March:

In a nutshell, Pevkur said:

“You have to be flexible to get the results you want,” he added. “If you want bilateral level, do it bilaterally. If you want trilateral or multilateral, do it this way. If you want it at NATO level, do it at NATO level.”

RUSI’s Arnold said he doesn’t think NATO is slow, but bilateral agreements are faster than usual.

In some countries, speed with small agreements is important.

Latvian Defense Minister Public said: