Hanso: Estonia’s security strengthened due to US activity (3)
Estonian Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso, currently on a visit to the United States, stated that Estonia’s security has strengthened as a result of US activity. In his opinion, US presence in the Baltics needs to expand even further.
“The United States is really shifting its focus — and extensively, in terms of military and defense — back onto Europe,” Hanso told ERR’s radio news. “While just a few years ago we saw a tendency for departure from Europe, by now it has apparently been understood in the US that, due to changes in security, patterns of security threats have once again been emerging specifically due to Russia’s behavior.”
Hanso pointed out that the US will be quadrupling defense expenditures dedicated to the support of Europe to $3.4 billion.
“Our position is very clear,” the defense minister went on, saying that he had repeatedly stressed as much when meeting with US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter. “US and ally presence in both Estonia and the other Baltic States, NATO’s easternmost countries, must clearly increase. If we consider what Russia is doing, then we cannot not react to that. Estonia’s security has clearly increased considerably as a result of everything that the United States and other allies are doing.”
Hanso also told ETV’s nightly news broadcast “Aktuaalne kaamera” that US Defense Secretary Carter confirmed that the US’ commitment to the defense of the Baltic region is ironclad.
In his opinion, however, it is not worth inquiring how many soldiers or how much equipment will be brought specifically to Estonia, for example. “It is important from a military logical standpoint that such units are positioned in the locations where they are most needed,” he explained.
The Estonian defense minister added that Estonia is working to fulfill the objective of securing a battalion-sized unit of allies which would be capable of fighting independently if needed.
US officials reported that the country will be sending an armored brigade to Eastern Europe next February as a part of a permanent rotation in the region supporting regional allies during a time of growing concern regarding increased Russian aggression.