TALLINN - Estonian Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet met with French Minister of the Armed Forces Florence Parly in Paris to discuss the security situation in Mali and Russian forces' continued buildup near the Ukrainian borders.
The two defense ministers also discussed the European Union's strategic compass and new cooperation initiatives between the two states.
The defense ministers acknowledged that the situation on the borders of Ukraine is alarming and jeopardizes Europe's security. Possible NATO deterrence measures on the alliance's eastern flank were discussed, including bilateral cooperation between Estonia and France.
"The steps of the West in terms of deterring aggressive Russia cannot be limited to a phone call, they must include concrete action," the Estonian defense minister, Kalle Laanet, said.
The defense ministers agreed that Russia's behavior is a challenge both in Europe and in Africa. Topics discussed included the situation in Mali, where Estonian forces are contributing in the framework of a French-led coalition. With regard to the situation in Mali, they acknowledged that the objective of the Russian Federation is to increase its influence in the region and erode Europe's unity. The ministers agreed that close communication and coordination of activities are to continue with regard to both issues.
Estonia is contributing to three operations in Mali -- the French-led operation Barkhane and its special operations taskforce Takuba, the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali (MINUSMA) and the European Union training mission EUTM Mali.