Viewing cable 07TALLINN278
Title: U.S.-BALTIC RELATIONS REMAIN STRONG: U.S.-BALTICS

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07TALLINN2782007-04-26 15:09:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tallinn
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C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 07 TALLINN 000278 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 04/26/2017 
TAGS: MARR MOPS NATO PGOV PREL LG LH EN
SUBJECT: U.S.-BALTIC RELATIONS REMAIN STRONG: U.S.-BALTICS 
MULITARAL/BILATERAL WORKING GROUP MEETING, APRIL 10-12 
 
Classified By: CDA Jeff Goldstein for reasons 1.4 (b) & (d). 
 
¶1. (U) Summary.  The Government of Estonia (GOE) hosted the 
U.S.-Baltic Multilateral and Bilateral Working Group 
Meeting in Tallinn on April 10-12.  At the multilateral 
working group meetings, the key issues discussed were the 
future of the NATO Air Policing mission, international 
operations (in particular, Afghanistan and Iraq), NATO 
Response Force developments, and the current state of NATO- 
EU relations.  By and large, U.S. and Baltic counterparts 
found common ground on most of the issues and agreed that 
U.S.-Baltic relations were positive and healthy. 
Additionally, the U.S. delegation held separate bilateral 
working group meetings with the Lithuanian, Estonian, and 
Latvian delegations.  End Summary. 
 
Air Policing 
------------ 
 
¶2. (C) Air Policing (AP) continues to be the most important 
NATO issue for all three Baltic States (Balts).  In 
January, the Balts issued a joint statement requesting NATO 
to extend the AP mission until 2018, at which time the 
Balts plan to be able to provide their own air defense. 
The Balts reiterated their desire for a long-term AP 
solution that meets their desire for a 24/7 air defense 
system. 
 
¶3. (C) Anthony Aldwell, OSD Principal Director for European 
and NATO Policy and Head of the U.S. delegation, 
acknowledged AP's importance to the Balts, and reiterated 
the USG's support for the NATO AP mission and commitment to 
evaluate ways to improve efficiencies.  While Aldwell noted 
the Balts' decision to delay procuring fighter aircraft to 
2018 as both strategically and financially sound, he 
encouraged their efforts to further reduce the cost burden 
for deployments on participating Nations.  (Note.  With the 
exception of Estonia, the Balts did not make any reference 
to procuring their own fighter aircraft as part of a 
permanent solution due to be made in 2011.  End Note.) 
Aldwell noted the recent U.S. proposal on AP at NATO, which 
recommended a review of the AP mission on a three year 
cycle.  The U.S. delegation recommended that, in addition 
to the primary AP mission, the Balts must make AP more 
attractive to contributing countries over the longer term 
(e.g., additional training possibilities, cost-sharing to 
reduce contributing countries' costs, longer rotations, 
improved efficiencies, etc.). 
 
¶4. (C) All three Balts spoke at length of the importance AP 
is to the public as the most visible sign of the benefits 
of NATO membership.  Additionally, AP continues to play an 
important part in justifying Baltic contributions to NATO 
operations in Afghanistan to their respective publics in 
addition to the costs of focusing their defense 
transformation on achieving expeditionary capabilities. 
The Balts have already established a Regional Air 
Surveillance and Control Center (BALTNET) in Lithuania that 
has assumed command-control responsibility (which was 
previously done from Germany at the Combined Air Operations 
Center).  The Baltic delegations expressed their 
satisfaction with the position recently put forward by the 
U.S. at NATO on AP. 
 
International Operations 
------------------------ 
 
¶5. (C) The U.S. delegation thanked all three Balts for 
their contribution in international operations in the 
Global War on Terror, particularly in Afghanistan and Iraq. 
Additionally, unlike many other allies, Aldwell noted that 
none of the Balts has hamstrung its contributions with 
restrictive caveats, which has been noticed and appreciated 
in Washington.  All three Balts reiterated their 
commitments in Afghanistan.  Although small in absolute 
numbers, the Balts said that their contributions in 
Afghanistan represented a significant and sizeable 
percentage of their deployable forces and military 
resources.  The Lithuanians described their desire to 
continue to support their PRT in Gwohr Province but also 
noted the cost of running their operations there consumed 
nine percent of their annual defense budget.  The Estonians 
pointed out that success in Afghanistan will ultimately 
require a comprehensive, coordinated approach that includes 
 
TALLINN 00000278  002 OF 007 
 
 
closer relations with Pakistan, more civilian-led 
development projects, and a better message to win Afghani 
hearts and minds.  The Latvians discussed the probability 
of increasing their contribution in 2008 to between 150 and 
200 troops. 
 
¶6. (C) Although all three Balts have troops in Iraq, they 
expressed far less enthusiasm and commitment in comparison 
to the Afghanistan mission.  All three conceded that 
depending on developments on the ground, their contribution 
of troops may change configuration (e.g. away from combat 
forces to reconstruction and development assistance, NATO 
Training Mission in Iraq, etc.).  All three were eager to 
learn more about progress with the "surge" and the status 
of U.S. plans for future troop levels in Iraq. Aldwell 
explained that it was premature to make any judgment about 
the efficacy of the surge.  However, the U.S. delegation 
made clear that the USG was committed to a sovereign, 
stable, secure Iraq.  While encouraging each to continue to 
make meaningful contributions of troops in Iraq, Aldwell 
expressed thanks for the steadfast support all three have 
demonstrated in Operation Iraqi Freedom. 
 
NATO Response Force 
------------------- 
 
¶7. (C) There was a lengthy discussion on the general 
developments of the NATO Response Force (NRF) and the 
current NRF-14 rotation.  In light of the operational 
challenges in Afghanistan last summer, the U.S. delegation 
suggested that NRF take on NATO's Strategic Reserve Force 
(SRF) mission.  Also raised were possibly altering NRF 
mission requirements, costs to contributing Nations while 
forces are pledged to the NRF, and the need for allies to 
fill niche capabilities during each rotation.  The Balts 
agreed with the idea of using the NRF as the SRF and 
suggested if the NRF was not used, it might be lost among 
the many competing priorities for European nations.  While 
all the Balts saw the logic and the efficiencies to be 
gained with altering some of the NRF mission requirements, 
they were nonetheless all opposed to dropping the NRF's 
"initial entry" mission.  Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian 
interlocutors all argued that this mission provided the 
visible and material link between the NRF and Article 5, an 
essential element underpinning Baltic political support for 
meeting NATO Force Goals. 
 
¶8. (C) Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia are working closely 
together to create a Baltic Battalion, which is to be the 
Balts' contribution to NRF-14.  Cooperation has advanced to 
the financing stage of the Battalion.  The key challenge 
for all three Balts will be prioritizing resources and 
agreeing on leadership of the battalion.  As all three 
countries are already involved in other international 
operations (e.g., Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia, etc.) 
and committed to contributing to the European Union (EU) 
Battle Group, each country will face challenges in meeting 
its force commitments.  (Note. The Latvians mentioned they 
had considered opting out of EU military structure and 
battle group due to limited resources.  Participation in 
NATO operations remains a top priority for Latvia.  End 
Note.)  Aldwell noted the positive example that Baltic 
contribution to NRF sets with other nations.  He also 
stressed that their cooperation in providing an integrated 
battalion was important for maintaining their defense 
transformation momentum. 
 
NATO-EU Relations 
----------------- 
 
¶9. (C) The Lithuanian delegation led a frank discussion on 
the current state of affairs of NATO-EU relations.  Saulius 
Gasiunas, Lithuanian MOD Director for NATO-EU Affairs, 
bluntly accused Germany and France of "poisoning relations" 
between NATO and the EU.  The Lithuanians specifically 
pointed to France and Germany's insistence on an 
independent and separate European Security and Defense 
Policy (ESDP) HQ in Brussels that will only duplicate NATO 
resources and diminish European operational capabilities 
further.  Additionally, the Lithuanians were incredulous 
that Baltic concerns seem to be treated as less important 
to the EU compared to the attention given to other small 
members, principally Cyprus.  While the Latvian delegation 
felt Gasiunas' assessment overly gloomy, it did admit that 
 
TALLINN 00000278  003 OF 007 
 
 
Latvian efforts to promote NATO-EU cooperation were not 
supported within the EU.  The Estonian delegation echoed 
both countries, and opined that on the political level, 
NATO-EU relations didn't look promising.  They felt that at 
the moment there are too many divisions within Europe: 
Turkey versus Cyprus, Germany and France versus the ten new 
eastern members, and EU High Representative Solana versus 
NATO Secretary General de Hoop Scheffer.  Overall, the 
Balts believe NATO to be the preeminent security 
organization for Europe and have no desire to waste 
resources on redundant requirements or staffs. 
 
¶10. (C) Aldwell fully agreed with the problems regarding 
NATO-EU cooperation.  Despite DOD's concerns over EU 
defense policies, Aldwell made clear that the USG supports 
a stronger EU so it can assume more responsibility and 
participate more in international operations.  However, 
like the Lithuanians, the U.S. delegation expressed 
skepticism that the EU's current actions (i.e., an 
independent ESDP HQ) would help in achieving this.  The 
U.S. delegation encouraged the Balts to meet with other 
like-minded allies at the working level in order to help 
break through this log jam.  Aldwell summed up the 
discussion by saying that the U.S. supports closer NATO-EU 
cooperation, but the EU must do much more. 
 
Other Items 
----------- 
 
¶11. (SBU) The following issues were also discussed: 
 
- BALTIC COOPERATION: Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia 
continue to cooperate closely in operating the Baltic 
Defense College (BDC) and asked that serious consideration 
be given to consistently providing a U.S. student in future 
years.  All three expressed a desire for U.S. participation 
in the next Annual Baltic Defense Conference in September 
¶2007.  Aldwell suggested the BDC approach similar U.S. 
institutions with requests for visiting lecturers and 
speakers as a way to enhance their curriculum. 
 
- STRATEGIC TRANSPORT: All three Balts expressed concern 
that the costs of the Strategic Airlift Consortium may be 
rising.  The U.S. delegation said Consortium members 
included German and French suggestions in to the 
Consortium's proposal in order to gain their support. 
However, Germany and France still "broke silence," which is 
causing delays and may needlessly increase costs to the 
participants.  Aldwell encouraged the Balts to pressure 
both Germany and France to drop their opposition to the 
Consortium. 
 
- ARMAMENTS COOPERATION: Colonel Mark Price, OSD Regional 
Manager for International Cooperation, Acquisition, 
Technology, and Logistics, gave a presentation on U.S. 
armaments cooperation program. 
 
Bilateral Working Group (BWG) Meetings 
-------------------------------------- 
 
U.S.-Estonia BWG Meeting: 
 
¶12. (SBU) Bilateral talks with the Estonians were extremely 
positive and constructive.  Both sides agreed that U.S.- 
Estonian relations were close and healthy.  The two most 
important issues for the Estonian delegation were (1) 
overcoming the interoperability challenges between U.S. and 
Estonian Counter-Improvised Explosive Device (CIED) 
equipment; and (2) U.S. support for Estonia's new Cyber 
Defense Center of Excellence (COE).  Other issues discussed 
were International Military Education and Training (IMET) 
and Foreign Military Finance (FMF) funding, Military to 
Military (MIL-MIL) cooperation, and further joint 
cooperation in operations. 
 
¶13. (C) COUNTER-IED INTEROPERABILITY: The Estonians 
remained concerned over interoperability problems between 
U.S. and Estonian CIED equipment in Iraq.  While Martin 
Hurt, Ministry of Defense (MOD) Permanent U/S for Defense 
Investments, expressed his appreciation to the U.S. for its 
assistance and cooperation in arranging for the planned May 
test of Estonia's IRIS II CIED system, he made it clear 
that the GOE desires a binding, long-term framework 
agreement to share technical information which would 
 
TALLINN 00000278  004 OF 007 
 
 
support "in the field" updates as the threat evolves. 
Aldwell fully agreed that cooperation was crucial and said 
the U.S. Joint IED Defeat Organization (JIEDDO) 
coordination with the GOE on the pending test of IRIS II at 
the Yuma Proving Grounds was an important indicator of U.S. 
commitment.  The U.S. delegation informed the Estonians 
that a master agreement for the technical exchange of 
information was tricky and complicated, taking at least six 
months and likely longer, but nonetheless pledged to 
continue working with the Estonians to deal with this 
challenge.  (Note.  Hurt recently met with DoD officials in 
Washington to discuss future cooperative agreements on 
defense procurement. End Note.) 
 
¶14. (SBU) CYBER DEFENSE CENTER: In 2006, the Estonians 
established a Cyber Defense Center, and ultimately hope it 
will be designated as a NATO Center of Excellence (COE). 
The MOD has campaigned extensively to drum up support among 
allies, eventually receiving commitments of support from 
Germany and Spain, but no active U.S. participation.  The 
Estonians requested U.S. participation in their COE, 
specifically in the form of trainers and speakers.  The MOD 
envisions their COE as critical in the current age of 
information warfare and vulnerability of both governmental 
and non-governmental communications, which rely heavily on 
internet technology.  Plans call for organizing two 
conferences a year and a number of training 
workshops/seminars where participants can focus on 
broadening cyber defense capability by making allies 
interoperable at the technical, legal, and political 
levels.  The Estonians made clear they are not asking for 
money from either NATO or the United States.  Mihkel 
Tammet, MOD Director for Communications and IT, 
enthusiastically explained that the GOE is financing 80% of 
the costs and that the remainder is being funded by other 
countries in proportion to their participation in the 
center.  The Estonians believe that receiving NATO's 
imprimatur as a COE and U.S. participation are critical for 
achieving more participation by allies.  The U.S. 
delegation promised to take the Estonian request back to 
Washington. 
 
¶15. (SBU) OTHER ISSUES: The Estonians thanked the U.S. for 
IMET and FMF assistance.  They stressed the importance of 
IMET and FMF assistance, saying it directly enhanced 
Estonia's contributions in the Global War on Terror, and in 
particular, in Afghanistan.  Hurt remarked that over the 
mid- to long-term, IMET will become more important for 
Estonia as the GOE is becoming more capable of procuring 
its own equipment.  In the same vein, the Estonians were 
eager for more MIL-MIL cooperation and joint interaction in 
operations.   The Estonians made two proposals: first, 
annual MIL-MIL meetings between U.S. and Estonian joint 
staffs at EUCOM; and second, joint military field exercises 
and cooperation in the area of air command and control, 
particularly as the Balts approach deployments and prepare 
to fulfill their NRF-14 commitments.  The U.S. delegation 
agreed to consider the Estonian proposals.  Aldwell made 
clear that any joint talks should be coordinated with both 
Lithuania and Latvia in order for any U.S. delegation to 
make the most effective use of opportunities to meet in the 
region. 
 
U.S.-Latvia BWG Meeting: 
 
¶16. (SBU) Discussions were positive and focused mostly on 
the development of the Latvian armed forces in compliance 
with their NATO established force goals.  Latvians 
highlighted their projected 30 percent increase in their 
2007 defense budget but also highlighted the impacts of 
strong inflation and a very tight labor-market on equipment 
acquisition, personnel recruitment and retention. 
 
¶17. (C/NF) NATO AND RUSSIA: The Latvians clearly 
articulated several concerns regarding the activities of 
Russia in the NATO - Russia Council (NRC).  The Latvians 
gave examples of Russian attempts to sabotage NATO 
decisional autonomy in the way Russian proposals are 
phrased.  They fear that NATO acceptance of Russian 
language comes too easily and may eventually allow Russia 
to veto NATO decisions.  They related Russian influence to 
the German resistance in NATO to Baltic requests for 
contingency planning for their defense under Article 5. 
They also gave examples of how Russian behavior in the NRC 
 
TALLINN 00000278  005 OF 007 
 
 
exemplifies their insincerity towards better cooperation 
with NATO. 
 
¶18. (C/NF) CIED EQUIPMENT: Latvia requested that the U.S. 
loan electronic jammers to them in order to protect their 
forces during their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. 
The U.S. currently has loaned such systems to the Latvians 
in Iraq and the country team is investigating options for 
this request with CENTCOM. 
 
¶19. (SBU) U.S. SUPPORT AND ASSISTANCE: The Latvians made it 
clear that the most beneficial resource the U.S. can 
provide Latvia at this time is engagement and advice 
regarding national defense planning, personnel management, 
and systems acquisitions.  U.S. financial assistance is 
greatly appreciated, and FMF funding and IMET funding have 
helped the Latvian armed forces make significant progress 
in development.  (Note.  The country team strongly 
supported the Latvian request for assistance in defense 
planning, personnel management, and acquisition.  End Note) 
 
U.S.-Lithuania BWG Meeting: 
 
¶20. (SBU) The discussion with the Lithuanians was a 
productive exchange and reflected the strong ties and open 
communication that continue to characterize the bilateral 
relationship.  The main issues of concern for the 
Lithuanians were (1) U.S. expectations on the future size 
and shape of the Lithuanian contingent in Iraq; (2) 
reconstruction efforts of the Lithuanian-led PRT in 
Afghanistan; (3) Air Policing; and (4) the status of the 
transfer of Osprey-class minesweepers. 
 
¶21. (SBU) FUTURE OF LITHUANIAN PRESENCE IN IRAQ:  Saulius 
Gasiunas reassured the U.S. delegation that Lithuanian 
troops will remain in Multinational Division South East 
(MND-SE) after the reductions of Danish and British Forces 
there this summer.  Gasiunas mentioned the pressure 
Lithuania felt to remain in Iraq in their current 
composition during recent meetings in Vilnius with other 
OSD officials.  The Lithuanians noted that the size and 
composition of the contingent was not likely to remain the 
same but this will ultimately be a political decision, 
which was yet to be made.  The U.S. delegation expressed 
appreciation for the Lithuanian intention to stay in Iraq 
and acknowledged the significant contributions already 
being made by Lithuania in Afghanistan.  Aldwell made it 
clear the USG wants the current contribution of a combat 
unit to continue, and that long-term Lithuanian 
participation in the coalition remains important as 
resources and personnel allow.  Gasiunas responded that the 
Lithuanian delegation was happy to get this assurance. 
 
¶22. (SBU) LITHUANIAN-LED PRT IN AFGHANISTAN: The Lithuanian 
delegation outlined the efforts being made by both the 
Ministry of National Defense (MoND) and the Ministry of 
Foreign Affairs to spur reconstruction in Ghowr Province. 
The Lithuanians stated that the operations and maintenance 
of the PRT now consumes eight to nine percent of the MoND 
budget.  Gasiunas explained that the province needs 
strategic level infrastructure improvements, such as roads 
to fully integrate it with the rest of Afghanistan.  He 
added that Lithuania is actively seeking international 
governmental and non-governmental support and funding, as 
the GOL has limited resources to commit to reconstruction. 
Gasiunas highlighted recent overtures to the United Arab 
Emirates (UAE), facilitated by DAO coordination, to sponsor 
strategic infrastructure improvement projects.  While only 
initial contacts and discussions have been held with the 
UAE, Gasiunas was confident that the UAE will prove to be a 
good partner.  Gasiunas noted the recent Ukrainian 
contribution of a medical doctor to the PRT, saying it was 
a positive step toward involving that nation in 
international operations.  The Lithuanian delegation also 
expressed the desire for an Afghan National Army presence 
in Ghowr by this summer, noting the importance of 
demonstrating GOA and ISAF commitment to the region.  The 
U.S. delegation commended Lithuania for its work in the PRT 
and acknowledged the depth of the Lithuanian financial 
commitment to the mission.  Aldwell reminded the 
Lithuanians that their efforts in Ghowr continue to serve 
as an example to the rest of NATO of the impact a small 
country can have in a crucial mission.  He also encouraged 
Lithuanian outreach to other nations as a positive step to 
 
TALLINN 00000278  006 OF 007 
 
 
expanding international support for the reconstruction and 
development efforts in Afghanistan. 
 
¶23. (SBU) NATO BALTIC AIR POLICING (AP):  The Lithuanian 
delegation expressed satisfaction with U.S. support, 
recently presented to the NATO Military Committee, for the 
continuation of the AP mission in the Baltic region. 
Gasiunas noted that the MoND is working with Lithuanian 
civil aviation authorities and other agencies to explore 
possibilities for greater training opportunities so that 
rotational AP units can maintain their tactical skills 
while deployed.  Additionally, Gasiunas stated that 
Lithuania is working with Latvia and Estonia to lower the 
costs for NATO members sending crews and aircraft to the 
mission.  However, he noted with dismay that several 
possible AP contributors had asked the Balts to pay the 
salaries of their personnel deployed to the region.  Taking 
on earlier U.S. suggestions to improve training 
opportunities for units deployed to the AP mission, the 
Lithuanian delegation requested additional information on 
the specific training requirements for U.S. air crews to 
maximize the training value during air policing 
deployments.  Aldwell acknowledged that the U.S. will send 
another rotation in 2009 and stated that training 
requirements will probably vary by country and aircraft 
type deployed for the AP mission.  He said he would ask the 
Joint Staff to engage the United States Air Forces in 
Europe (USAFE) to provide the Lithuanians with a more 
detailed set of requirements and suggested there may be a 
scale of training requirements and desires which the Balts 
will have to evaluate.  (Note.  Both Estonian and Latvian 
delegates said that Lithuania receives more financial 
benefits from the AP units deployed to Lithuania.  End 
Note.) 
 
¶24. (SBU) TRANSFER OF OSPREY CLASS NAVAL MINESWEEPERS: The 
Lithuanian delegation requested an update on the Excess 
Defense Articles transfer of two Osprey class mine counter 
measures vessels.  CDR Sean Cannon, from the Defense 
Security Cooperation Agency, explained that the transfer of 
the ships is not supported by the U.S. House of 
Representatives Armed Services Committee (HASC).  Two 
members of the HASC are objecting to the transfer on the 
grounds that the ships are still required in the U.S. 
inventory.  Gasiunas explained that Lithuania had made 
significant plans for incorporating these ships into 
service.  Lithuania was even hoping for more as they are 
vital to these ships fill a NATO Force Goal requirement, 
and that Lithuania dedicated significant funds for their 
transfer and subsequent upkeep.  After Gasiunas pushed for 
a sense of the likelihood that the transfer would occur, 
Cannon frankly stated that transfer of the ships was not 
likely to occur given the opposition of two influential 
Members of Congress.  Although disappointed, the Lithuanian 
delegation was glad to receive an honest assessment of the 
situation. 
 
¶25. (C) OTHER ISSUES:  The Lithuanian delegation explained 
the planned deployment of approximately 50 Special 
Operations Forces (SOF) troops to southern Afghanistan in 
July under ISAF command.  Gasiunas noted that operational 
and logistical details of the deployment were still being 
coordinated, but the contingent will be deployed in the 
vicinity of Kandahar.  Gasiunas also raised the issue of 
Lithuanian defense engagement at the working level with 
Belarus, expressing the feeling that more can be done to 
draw the Belarusians into the fold while staying below NATO 
and EU imposed thresholds for interaction.  Aldwell 
acknowledged that the U.S. has heard this message from 
other allies.  Gasiunas stated that Belarusian defense 
officials have expressed their willingness to contribute to 
international operations, if invited.  Lastly, the 
Lithuanians thanked the USG for U.S. security assistance, 
noting its value in defense transformation, achieving 
interoperability with U.S. and NATO forces, and enhanced 
Lithuania's ability to participate in operations in 
Afghanistan and Iraq.  After acknowledging that the 
likelihood of continued U.S. security assistance was low 
given the many U.S. defense priorities, Gasiunas asked how 
much longer FMF and IMET would continue for Lithuania. 
Aldwell responded that the USG understands how important 
these programs have been to the many countries that receive 
assistance.  He noted that the programs are administered by 
the Department of State and that many factors are weighed 
 
TALLINN 00000278  007 OF 007 
 
 
to determine allocations.  Aldwell opined that the Balts 
will continue to receive FMF and IMET allocations for at 
least two more years but, beyond that timeframe, he could 
not speculate on the level of assistance. 
 
¶26. (SBU) This cable was cleared by Anthony Aldwell, 
OASD/ISA Principal Director for European and NATO Policy 
and Head of the U.S. delegation. 
GOLDSTEIN