Estonian defmin, French chief of defense staff discuss defense cooperation

  • 2024-02-26
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - On Saturday, just before Estonia's Independence Day parade, Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur met with French chief of the defense staff, Gen. Thierry Burkhard, to discuss defense cooperation between Estonia and France.

"General Burkhard's presence in Estonia on such a symbolic day for us and for Ukraine sends a clear message about the strong defense cooperation between Estonia and France. Following the start of Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, France rapidly increased its military presence in Estonia and made it permanent in our country. France is a strategic partner and NATO ally for Estonia, with whom our cooperation is daily and covers all defense domains," Pevkur was quoted by Ministry of Defense spokespeople as saying.

Burkhard affirmed that it was an honor to be invited to the celebration of Estonia's Independence Day.

"This invitation demonstrates the strength and dynamism of the military cooperation between Estonia and France within NATO," he said. 

"In 2024, France will bring its most modern armored reconnaissance vehicles, such as the Jaguar and Serval vehicles, and a light infantry battle company to the Kevadtorm [Spring Storm] exercise. French Air Force pilots also work dedicatedly every day to secure the airspace of the Baltic states together with allies," he added.

French defense forces have been part of the NATO battle group in Estonia since 2017. From last October until the end of February, the French company, part of the first infantry regiment stationed in Estonia, is accompanied by VBMR Griffon armored personnel carriers and AMX-10 armored reconnaissance vehicles. At the end of February, the next French company will arrive from the 13th battalion of the 27th Mountain Infantry Brigade. 

From August to December 2023, in addition to the existing bilateral cooperation, France also contributed with a company of paratroopers from the 1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment to primarily work with the Estonian Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer corps. The French have conducted Baltic air policing three times from Amari air base -- most recently in the summer of 2022, participating with Mirage aircraft. From 2018 to 2022, Estonia contributed up to 70 defense personnel to the France-led Operation Barkhane in Mali and its special operations component, Task Force Takuba.