Estonian defense chief attends meeting with EU, NATO colleagues in Brussels

  • 2022-05-20
  • BNS/TBT Staff

TALLINN - Lt. Gen. Martin Herem, commander of the Estonian defense forces, took part in a meeting of EU and NATO chiefs of defense in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday.

The key topics at the EU chiefs of defense meeting were the implementation of the Strategic Compass and war between Ukraine and Russia.

In the framework of the Strategic Compass, the EU defense chiefs discussed the development of the new EU rapid deployment capacity and contribution to ensuring security through various EU missions in the world. Missions in Africa, for example in Mali and in the Central African Republic, have proved to be a matter of concern because in these areas the missions' freedom of action is increasingly restricted due to the governments' agreements with the Wagner Group.

With regard to the war in Ukraine, the EU chiefs of defense were of the same opinion that everything must be done to help Ukraine.

"The role of the EU and member states is of crucial importance. We must increase the price of this war for Russia, isolate them internationally and comprehensively support Ukraine, both with military aid and with rebuilding the country in the longer-term perspective," the commander of the Estonian defense forces, Lt. Gen. Martin Herem, said. "Additionally, we also need to find within the EU a common and coordinated approach to the war industry to ensure secure access to resupply at an acceptable price level."

The meeting was chaired for the first time by the new head of the EU Military Committee, Austrian Gen. Robert Brieger. During the meeting, the chiefs of defense selected Dutch Lt. Gen. Michiel Van Der Laan as the new director general of the EU Military Staff.

The key topics at the NATO chiefs of defense meeting on Thursday were Russia's aggression against Ukraine and NATO's long-term adjustment due to the drastically changed security situation.

Military advice by allied chiefs of defense contributes to the Madrid Summit to be held at the end of June. In addition, meetings were also held with NATO partners in which participated the chiefs of defense of Ukraine, Finland, Sweden, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. Most allies expressed support to the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO as this step would boost the common security and strengthen NATO. They also expressed hope that the accession process will be swift.

"A new era has begun for NATO," chair of the NATO Military Committee, Dutch Adm. Rob Bauer, said. "President Putin's war in Ukraine has presented us with a new strategic dilemma and a new reality. As a defense alliance, we must ensure that we're always prepared to defend the one billion people residing in the territory of allied countries."

On the sidelines of the NATO military leaders' meeting, Herem also met with deputy commander of the South Korean defense forces Lt. Gen Jeong Hwan Park to discuss bilateral cooperation, particularly in relation to the K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers and cyber defense.

A meeting of the chiefs of defense of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) was also held where the focus was likewise on the changed security situation and possible courses of action for the JEF, particularly in the Baltic Sea region.