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  • Norwegian Air Force's F-16 fighters (R) and Italian Air Force's Eurofighter Typhoon fighters patrol over the Baltics during a NATO air policing mission from Zokniai air base near Siauliai, Lithuania, May 20, 2015.REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo
  • A U.S. M1 Abrams tank fires during the "Saber Strike" NATO military exercise in Adazi, Latvia, June 11, 2016.REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
  • British paratroopers jump from a C-130 Hercules plane during the NATO allies' Anakonda 16 exercise near Torun, Poland, June 7, 2016.REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/File Photo
  • Soldiers walk after a demonstration of their skills during a military police exercise, ahead of the NATO summit in July in Warsaw, at the PGE National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland May 24, 2016. Picture taken May 24, 2016.REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
  • Soldiers demonstrate their skills during a military police exercise, ahead of the NATO summit in July in Warsaw, at the PGE National Stadium in Warsaw, Poland May 24, 2016. Picture taken May 24, 2016.REUTERS/Kacper Pempel
  • Paratroopers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade of the U.S. Army in Europe take part in military exercise "Black Arrow" in Rukla May 14, 2014.REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo
  • Lithuanian army soldiers attend the Spring Storm military exercise near the Estonia's eastern border in Rapina, Estonia, May 13, 2016.REUTERS/Ints Kalnins/File Photo
  • A boy inspects U.S. army weapon during tactical road march Dragoon Ride II display in Daugavpils, Latvia, June 6, 2016.REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
  • A woman gestures as she visits tactical road march Dragoon Ride II display in Daugavpils, Latvia, June 6, 2016.REUTERS/Ints Kalnins
  • Poland's Armed Forces Operations Commander General Marek Tomaszycki, U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Mark A. Milley and U.S. Army Europe Commanding General Ben Hodges (L-R) attend a news conference during the NATO allies' Anakonda 16 exercise near Torun, Poland, June 7, 2016.REUTERS/Kacper Pempel

Baltic countries and Poland fear that the size of the NATO force is too minuscule to efficiently deter Russian aggression in the region.

When asked about the likelihood of Russian aggression in the Baltics, Lithuania's Defence Minister Juozas Olekas told Reuters: "We cannot exclude it ... They might exercise on the borders and then switch to invasion in hours."

Olekas may raise the matter with NATO colleagues at the meeting of ministers on Tuesday and Wednesday in Brussels.

"We need to stop possible air aggression," said Olekas. "We are discussing creating a regional medium-range air defense system together with the Latvians, the Estonians and the Poles."

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have kept their armies on alert, making it easier for mobilisation in the situation of a possible conflict with Moscow.

Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 is still fresh in the memories of the former Soviet-bloc states, who are seeking military help from their Western allies to build an air defence system against aircraft and missiles.

Analysts say this move could further escalate tensions as the move will surely be condemned by Moscow as yet more evidence of a NATO strategy threatening its borders.

NATO defence ministers are set to agree this week on a new multinational force. The United States, Germany and Britain are set to lead battalions of about 1,000 troops each. Canada may lead a fourth.

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