TALLINN - The new commander of the French defense forces, Gen. Thierry Burkhard, visited Estonia for the first time this week and talked to Estonian defense chief Lt. Gen. Martin Herem about the current security situation and cooperation between the defense forces of the two countries.
"Our troops have participated and cooperated in both the Sahel and Europe in the framework of NATO peacekeeping missions. It is a strong strategic partnership between the two countries in order to meet current and future challenges," Burkhard said. "I have come here to remind you that the French defense forces are standing alongside its allies and are involved in ensuring the security of Europe's eastern flank," the general added.
"There is full-scale military action on Europe's borders. The aggression of the Russian Federation in Ukraine has radically changed the security situation of all of us. NATO must militarily credibly strengthen its deterrence and defense posture, as Putin has demonstrated that the use of military force to achieve one's own political goals is acceptable. Therefore, the focus of both nations and NATO must be clearly on strengthening real readiness and military capabilities. In doing so, it is important to work with our allies to ensure watertight plans together with the forces and to find ways to contribute where it is most beneficial," Lt. Gen. Martin Herem said.
At the meeting, the commanders of the Estonian and French defense forces discussed the effects of Russia's aggression in Ukraine on European security and the main security risks in Africa. They also discussed how the changed security situation will affect countries individually and NATO as a whole, how the alliance should strengthen its deterrence and defense posture in the current situation, international cooperation issues more broadly, and the common prospects for strengthening stability in Africa.
During the visit, Gen. Burkhard also met with members of the French Air Force stationed at the Amari air base as part of the NATO air policing mission and visited the 1st Infantry Brigade in Tapa, where he met with commander of the 1st Infantry Brigade Col. Andrus Merilo and the French troops operating there.