Summit Update: Afghanistan, Ukraine, Baltics
Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Rõivas said after a International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) meeting in Newport, Wales, on Thursday, that Estonia is ready to send 25 troops back to Afghanistan.
Rõivas said the figure is far smaller than the previous units stationed in Afghanistan, but considering Estonia's size, still a sizable contribution. Afghanistan will first have to name a president, who could then an agreement with NATO to keep troops in the country after 2014.
The agreement to form a new joint expeditionary force between the UK, Estonia and five other countries (Latvia, Lithuania, Denmark, Norway and the Netherlands) was signed by the countries' defence ministers last night aboard a naval ship, the HMS Duncan.
Johannes Tralla, ERR's Brussels correspondent who is in Wales, said NATO is unwilling to give Ukraine military aid. “That is the red line no one is willing to cross,” adding that funds could be given to the nation to upgrade its armed forces.
Tralla said the word on the street in Newport is that the Baltics will get what they came to Wales for at a meeting today. The current NATO troops in the Baltics could be kept there on a permanent basis, and equipment will be pre-positioned.
Speaking about Ukraine, Tralla said there is no great optimism for the truce offer from Russia among those at the NATO summit in Wales.
“Russia is fighting against Ukraine on Ukrainian soil. Russian soldiers and tanks are attacking the Ukrainian armed forces. Although Russia is talking about peace it has not made any step towards it,” NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said.
Rõivas said Estonia will add another 100,000 euros to Ukrainian government funds, bringing the total sum to around 1 million euros. He said a plan to accept injured Ukrainians in Estonian hospitals is still on the cards.
Defense Minister Sven Mikser said measures against Russia should be strong enough to hurt. He told ETV today important decisions are expected by tonight.
One important document that is expected to be approved today is plan of action which will map out how NATO members should react to any new Russian aggression, Mikser said.
He said the Ukrainian military industrial complex is strong, but economically weak, and that the nation needs support but not necessarily direct military aid.
Urmas Paet, Estonia's foreign minister, said NATO has chosen a path of enlargement. He told candidate states Georgia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina at a meeting of foreign ministers that previous NATO expansion has increased stability and security in Europe.
Paet said Estonia is backing Montenegro's membership bid, which could be realized at the end of 2015. He said negotiations with Georgia are also at an advanced stage, while Macedonia would like to open talks as soon as the name dispute with Greece is settled.
Greece insists that the country be called the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), to avoid confusion with a region of Greece.