Defense Minister Urmas Reinsalu has said that the French-led EU mission to the Central African Republic, for which the government has decided to pledge troops, could begin in less than two months and last four months, costing Estonian taxpayers 2.7 million euros.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Defense Forces Commander in Chief Maj. Gen. Riho Terras said that the platoon will take its own armored vehicles and will be comprised of battle-hardened Afghanistan veterans.
He said that the troops are likely to be used as quick reaction forces, or will protect the capital city's airport or a transport corridor.
Estonian troops will, if the deployment is approved, be part of an EU force that is expected to be greenlighted on Monday by the union's foreign ministers.
Reinsalu said that France initially asked Estonia for help, and noted that France played a key part in the successful ending of the kidnapping crisis in Lebanon in 2011, in which seven Estonian cyclists were abducted and held captive.
The Estonian government on Thursday approved the deployment of up to 55 soldiers to the Central African Republic, but the decision must be ratified by Parliament.