TALLINN – Estonia's Defense Minister Juri Luik and Commander of the Defense Forces Martin Herem on Friday talked about strengthening NATO's defense and deterrence posture in the Baltic Sea region with Gen. Tod Walters, commander of the US European Command and NATO's supreme allied commander Europe (SACEUR).
In addition, they talked about the planned large-scale exercise Zapad in Russia, which will be conducted close to NATO's borders in the fall and in the course of which large-scale combat activity against NATO will be rehearsed, spokespeople for the Estonian Ministry of Defense said.
"Despite all the challenges in the new year and last year, NATO's deterrence and defense posture and cooperation between the member states have been effective, which demonstrates the alliance's very good capability to react and adapt," Luik said according to spokespeople.
The SACEUR said that NATO places very great importance in the security of the Baltic Sea region and that strengthening the alliance's deterrence and defense posture in our region will continue. It was also noted that in the coming year one has to keep a very close eye on the actions of our neighbor, as the neighbor is about to stage the large-scale exercise Zapad and rehearse military activity against NATO.
Herem said that for the preservation of NATO's preparedness and defense ability, it is important to continue the planned training exercises and activities. As an example of this, the Estonian defense chief named the exercise of the NATO battlegroup and the defense forces in Latvia last year in the course of which one managed to continue training while avoiding getting infected with the virus. Herem also hailed the training exercise of the US multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) in Estonia last fall, which provided a unique training opportunity for the Estonian defense forces.
In addition, the participants in the conversation talked about the presence of allied forces in the Baltic countries and Poland and the conduct of the Baltic air policing mission in our airspace.
Since 2017, a battalion size NATO battlegroup, made up of troops of the British Army along with smaller contingents of Denmark and France, has been stationed in Estonia. Besides, the airspace of the three Baltic countries has been policed by fighter jets of allies as part of the NATO Baltic air policing mission since the accession of the three countries to the alliance in 2004. At present the portion of the Baltic air policing mission conducted out of the Amari air base in Estonia is performed by the German Air Force with Eurofigther Typhoon fighter jets.