NATO’s Jittery Baltic Members Beef Up Defense

NATO’s Jittery Baltic Members Beef Up Defense

TALLINN, Estonia—Marion Ots, an advertising agent and mother of two, was at a birthday party last month when she realized that hers was the only family there without someone in the local volunteer militia. So she joined.

“Basically, I am ready to engage in battle,” said Ms. Ots, 34 years old.

Across northeastern Europe, people are signing up for military training, fearing a resurgent Russia across the border and worried about how committed to their defense the U.S. will be under President-elect Donald Trump.

“I have a wheelchair: I'll put a goddamn gun on it and go fight [President Vladimir] Putin personally if America won't,” said 85-year-old retired army chief Aleksander Einseln, who recently pulled his old field uniform from the closet to check if it still fits.

The defense forces are ragtag: Estonia's 16,000-member league, called the Kaitseliit, doubles as a volunteer firefighting corps. The 9,000 people in Latvia's Home Guard includes 1,100 aged 55 or over.

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