TALLINN - Secretary General of the Estonian Ministry of Defense Kusti Salm, who is on a visit to the United States, said that the contribution of the United States to the security of the Baltic countries is unwavering.
Salm met in Washington, D.C., with Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Mara Karlin from the US Department of Defense, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Jessica Lewis from the US Department of State, National Cyber Director Chris Inglis, officials of the Senate and House of Representatives and the adjutant general of the Maryland National Guard, Maj. Gen. Timothy Gowen.
The focus of the meetings was on the security situation of the Baltic region and discussions were held of strengthening the defense and deterrence position in the area. Topics discussed also included bilateral fostering of cooperation between Estonia and the United States, including in the area of cyber defense, and opportunities for holding joint military exercises. The discussions also concerned the hybrid operations launched by Belarus in the Baltic region for the purpose of putting pressure on the European Union and NATO but also the Zapad 2021 strategic major exercise of the Russian Federation and Belarus held in September this year.
"The continued inclusion of the United States in European security is crucial. In order to strengthen the regional defense and deterrence position, we need to develop a shared understanding on how to recognize a crisis, improve our interoperability and harmonize our defense plans. The visible inclusion of the United States in the security of the Baltic region is the biggest deterrence to our main security threat -- the Russian Federation," Salm said at a meeting with Karlin.
In addition to the said meetings, Salm also took part in the round table of the Atlantic Council think tank on the Zapad 2021 military exercise and its effects. Salm said at the round table that Zapad is not a standalone one-off event; instead, the activities of the Russian Federation must be looked at from a longer-term perspective, developments in the course of which have not just been targeted against the Baltic region but against the value system of the entire Western world and towards weakening all of Europe.