March 20, 2023

Baltic Defence Development: Adding Value to the Defence of the Baltic Sea Region

Valmar Voolaid/Estonian Defence Forces
Firing of the HIMARS missile system in Saaremaa on 23 May 2022.
Firing of the HIMARS missile system in Saaremaa on 23 May 2022.

While Baltic security thinking has long been dominated by assessments of the risk of Russian military aggression in Europe, the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 was still a shock in its brutality and scale. It has led the three Baltic states to further increase defence spending and to accelerate the building of national defence capabilities.

In this analysis, authors from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania describe recent defence developments in their countries—in particular, those that followed Russia’s annexation of Crimea and aggression in eastern Ukraine in 2014, and those that have been initiated in the past year. It looks at changes to defence financing, policies and force structures, major capability acquisitions, host nation support for allied deployments, and comprehensive defence.

Russia’s war in Ukraine since 2014 has led to a greater convergence of the three states’ defence policies and postures, notably with the re-introduction of conscription in Lithuania and Latvia. Nonetheless, the authors find, there is much room for improvement in practical aspects of defence cooperation.

Download and read: Baltic Defence Development (PDF)