Defense capability of Baltic states must be improved - Estonian defense minister

  • 2021-12-21
  • LETA/BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Estonian Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet met with his Latvian counterpart Artis Pabriks and Lithuanian colleague Arvydas Anusauskas in Kaunas on Tuesday to discuss current affairs in Baltic security and the Russian military buildup near the borders of Ukraine.

The ministers also weighed the recent demands by the Russian Federation to NATO, supporting Poland in combating the hybrid attack by Belarus, the planned joint procurement of a multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) and the European Union's strategic compass.

"Our support to the territorial integrity of Ukraine is unwavering and we call on the Russian Federation to terminate its military support to the Luhansk and Donetsk separatists regions and to end the occupation of Crimea," Laanet said. "Consistent attempts by Putin's regime to destabilize security in Europe and elsewhere in the world and to bend sovereign states under his zone of influence must be stopped," he added.

The three states' ministers discussed options for supporting Ukraine in a situation where the Russian Federation is deploying military units on the Ukrainian border.

"Diplomatic talks with Russia have not deescalated the situation, on the contrary, Russia has continued its military buildup on the borders of Ukraine," Laanet said.

In order to support Ukraine's conflict medicine capability, Estonian and German defense ministries are to provide Ukraine with the Role 2 field hospital system as part of a joint project. Estonia also continues close cooperation with Ukraine through the Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer corps, joint exercises in Ukraine, in cyber affairs and by providing training to Ukrainian military personnel.

The Baltic defense ministers also agreed on a joint regional capability-building project, according to which all three Baltic states are to start developing a multiple launch rocket system.

The ministers decided to develop a trilateral defense cooperation agreement next year. Considering the current deterioration in the security situation, the agreement would pursue continued strengthening of the regional deterrence and defense posture, particularly through MLRS capability-building but also through developing integrated maritime situational awareness and increasing the contribution of NATO allies in the region.