TALLINN - The alliance's defense and deterrence posture, protection of critical infrastructure, and military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq were discussed at a meeting of NATO defense ministers earlier this week, the Estonian Ministry of Defense said in a press release on Saturday.
In addition, the ministers of defense approved a plan to set up a NATO Space Center at Allied Air Command in Ramstein, Germany.
The ministers also took note of a recent decision to declare the headquarters of the alliance's Multinational Division North in Latvia a part of the NATO force structure.
"Our eastern neighbor has not reduced its aggressive military posture vis-a-vis NATO also during the pandemic, conducting large-scale exercises and increasing the arsenal of missiles. Therefore also NATO has to maintain and strengthen its deterrence and defense posture," Estonia's Minister of Defense Juri Luik said after the two-day meeting that ended on Friday.
Continuous investments in the development of defense capability, which are beginning to fall under pressure from the economic decline arising from the pandemic, make up the basis of the deterrence and defense posture. At their meeting, the ministers of defense were in unanimity on it that no concessions can be made in the current security situation.
Luik pointed out that despite the pandemic, Estonia remains committed to developing its independent defense capability, and in 2021 the country's defense budget will equal 2.3 percent of GDP.
In addition, the ministers of defense discussed the protection of critical infrastructure and supply chains, the importance of which has been highlighted also by the ongoing pandemic. Dependence on the civilian sector and third countries in ensuring the infrastructure and services that the armed forces and societies of the allies rely on were another topic highlighted at the meeting.
As regards NATO's military operations, the ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq were also talked about. The NATO mission in Afghanistan is in its final phases, and until a decision is made with allies to bring troops home, Estonia will continue making a contribution to that mission.
When it comes to the mission in Iraq, Luik informed that Estonia is prepared to send a force protection platoon to that country next year.
Space was added to the list of operating domains of NATO last year. At Friday's meeting a plan was endorsed to set up a NATO Space Center at Allied Air Command in Ramstein, Germany. Space has emerged as an ever more important domain in recent years, as all NATO operations depend on secure and fast satellite communications.
Furthermore, participants in the meeting took note of a recent decision to declare the headquarters of the alliance's Multinational Division North in Latvia a part of the NATO force structure, which plans and leads the alliance's defense activities in Estonia and Latvia. The headquarters of Multinational Division North support better integration of the defense forces of Estonia and Latvia with the NATO command and troop structure.
The framework nations of Multinational Division North are Estonia, Latvia and Denmark.
In addition, the ministers discussed the situation in Belarus, which the allies are observing very carefully.