LONDON - NATO has agreed to form an official contingency plan for the Baltic States after five years of debate, The Economist reported.
Developing a formal plan of defense for the Baltic States has been a contentious issue as it drew harsh criticism from Russia - an ally of the alliance but a country that the Baltics still see as a major threat.
''This is a big change. Since the three Baltic states joined NATO in 2004, defense planners have tried to sidestep the question of what their membership means in practice," The Economist article says.
If Russia is a friendly NATO partner, not an adversary, then defense plans for the new member states from the ex-communist part of Europe should not be necessary. Indeed, until late 2008 NATO’s threat assessment—the basis for its military planning—explicitly discounted any threat from Russia," it said.
The article noted that the main push for developing an explicit defense plan for Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania came from Poland - itself a former Soviet state on poor terms with Russia.
"Formal approval is still pending and the countries concerned have been urged to keep it under wraps. But sources close to the talks say the deal is done: the Baltic states will get their plans, probably approved by NATO’s military side rather than its political wing," the article says.