VILNIUS, February 17 (Itar-Tass) —— The Baltic republics will enlarge their contributions to the NATO air patrolling mission in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia by 50% by 2015, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said on Friday.
“Our [the Baltic republics’] contribution to the mission stood at 2.2 million euros in 2011. The amount will grow to 3.5 million euros within the next three years,” Defense Minister Rasa Jukneviciene said.
Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn vowed to enlarge their contribution to the air patrolling mission in response to the NATO decision of February 8 to make the mission permanent. NATO pilots patrolling the Baltic airspace are based in Zonkiai, Lithuania.
“We intend further increase of our contributions to the mission, and will hold negotiations with the allies to the effect,” the minister said. In her words, the contributions are still much smaller than the expenditures Lithuania would have had to bear in the case of buying fighter jets.
The Baltic republics had been insisting on the long-term air patrolling mission since 2009. They equally shared the expenditures in the accommodation of NATO personnel in Lithuania, and started covering transportation expenditures in 2010.