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Estonian PM welcomes NATO's decision to station units in region

  • 2016-06-15
  • BNS/TBT STAFF/TALLINN

The North Atlantic Council which consists of NATO member states' defence ministers on Tuesday decided to increase the allied presence in the Baltic Sea region by sending a battalion-sized unit to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas welcomed the decision, stating that it is a very important step toward securing the presence of the allies in the region.

Now that the decision has been made on the level of defence ministers, as the next step the Estonian government will discuss the costs related to hosting the battalion at a Cabinet meeting.

"Increasing the presence of allies is of fundamental importance to our security and the task of the government is to create all the conditions necessary for that. We will make a decision in the government regarding the costs of hosting the battalion before the Warsaw summit which takes place from July 8 to 9 to affirm clearly and unambiguously that there are no obstacles on our side to hosting the allies," Roivas said.

He added that in the next three weeks Estonia will continue discussions with NATO, the US, the UK, and Germany as well as other allies over the details of Tuesday's decision. The first priority is that the decisions to be made at the summit would not be a one-time measure but would become a lasting policy of the alliance, Roivas said.

Estonian Defence Minister Hannes Hanso, who also accepted the decision, said that it is a breakthrough decision for securing the security of our region.

"NATO, as the world's strongest defence organisation, is committed to protecting its member states. The decision to increase allied presence in our region sends the clear signal to a possible aggressor that NATO stands together for the security of all its allies," Hanso said. "The decision shows that the alliance reacts fast to the changed security situation. NATO's credible military and political deterrence leaves no room for false calculations — NATO will react when a member state is under attack.”

According to the conception of increased allied presence one framework country would be responsible for each battalion and other allies would contribute with subunits. By the Warsaw summit taking place at the beginning of July it will become clear which member states would contribute to the increased presence. By today the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom have said they would be ready to do that.

The units would consist of 800 to 1,200 people and more specifics would be agreed upon after the Warsaw summit.

The summit is expected to put the final seal of approval on measures to reinforce the eastern flank of the alliance.