Estonia is to commit 160 military personnel to international operations, along with 234 service members to readiness units, next year. This includes a continued contribution to the French-led anti-insurgency Operation Barkhane, in the West African country of Mali, for which 95 personnel are earmarked.
"The French-led operation is engaged directly in the fight against armed terrorism in Mali," said defence minister Jüri Luik (Isamaa) of the development, which received Riigikogu approval.
"Mali is certainly dangerous, but it should not be overlooked that this is one of the reasons we are in the region, and the end goal of the operation is to stabilize the situation in the region to a degree which allows the national authorities of countries in that region to independently ensure security," Luik continued, according to a ministry press release.
"The operation enables us to work with our closest Allies, such as France," Luik added.
France is committed to contribute to the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup in Estonia in 2021, as it has done this year already.
The UN and the EU have both been involved in the Mali and Sahel-region counter-insurgency operations.
'If we look at all of those international organizations and countries active in Mali and the region, we can say that the international community understands well that the potential terrorism and migration threat must be dealt seriously on-site," Luik said.
Estonia will earmark additional personnel towards the UN peacekeeping mission and the EU Training Mission in Mali, as well as Barkhane, it is reported.
Several EDF infantry platoons have been involved in patrolling activities in the Malian city of Gao.
The Riigikogu also doubled the commitment of Estonian Defence Forces (EDF) troops to the U.S.-led anti-ISIS Operation Inherent Resolve, in Iraq.
This should allow Estonia, in the event of a change in the security situation in Iraq and environs, to react flexibly and, if necessary, be ready to increase its contribution in support of the coalition and the U.S., it is reported.
Other commitments include up to 210 service members being sent to NATO's Response Force (NRF), with an armored infantry company (within the Baltic Battalion), special operations forces, staff officers and a mine counter-measures vessel crew, and up to 24 service members towards the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF).
These are readiness troops which will be stationed in Estonia during the period required.
Estonia contributes to U.N. (UNIFIL, Lebanon, UNTSO, Middle East, MINUSMA, Mali), NATO (Resolute Support, Afghanistan, NMI, Iraq), and EU (EUTM, Mali, EUNAVFOR, Mediterranean) operations, as well as Inherent Resolve and Barkhane.
As in previous years the ministry applied for the mandate at the earliest possible time, it is reported, with a rapid response contribution of up to 50 troops to international military operations led by NATO or its member countries, the EU, or the U.N.
Editor: Andrew Whyte