Washington approves $228 million in US military aid to the three Baltic states, Estonia says

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HELSINKI (AP) — The U.S. Congress has passed a bill that involves a total of $228 million in military and defense aid to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania this year under the Baltic Security Initiative, Estonia’s defense officials said Saturday.

The U.S. government funding legislation includes military aid to the three Baltic countries, which all are NATO members and neighbors of Russia, that was approved by lawmakers on Friday.

“Support from the U.S. has significantly helped Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania fast track several military infrastructure and capability development projects,“ Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said in a statement. “The good news is that the support is slightly higher than last year.”

“This (financial aid) sends a clear signal that the U.S., the largest ally in NATO, is committed to the security and stability of our region,” he said.

Created in 2020, the Baltic Security Initiative, or BSI, is a venture through which the U.S. Defense Department supports developing military capability and interoperability of the armed forces of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The focus of the U.S. funding is on developing air defense, maritime situational awareness and land forces in the Baltic nations, Estonia’s defense ministry said, adding that a total of $225 million was allocated in aid under the BSI to the three countries in 2023.

In December, the United States and the Baltic states agreed on a five-year defense cooperation road map that is intended to guide the collaborative relationships for defense and national security between the countries through 2028.