Luik stresses current crisis' security dimension at NATO ministers meeting
Minister of Defense Jüri Luik (Isamaa) participated in a secure video conference of NATO defense ministers on Wednesday, where discussions focused on the alliance's activities as well as maintaining defense readiness under the conditions of the ongoing COVID-19 virus outbreak.
"For Estonia, it is important that our allies share the understanding hat the current health and economic crisis also has a strong security dimension," Luik said according to a ministry press release. "Examples of this include the aggressive disinformation, cyber and hybrid campaigns against the West, which provide allies with confirmation that we can have no illusions concerning the security environment. The core of NATO's activities will remain deterrence and defense."
According to the minister, it is also important that allies' armed fores are ready to support society and able to take care of their troops, because their military readiness depends on it.
At the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) Gen. Tod Wolters briefed allies on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on NATO's defense posture and operations.
"Our allies emphasized the need to maintain defense expenditures and confirmed their full commitment to NATO operations, including the allied presence at Tapa and Ämari," Luik said. "Estonia will also continue to participate in NATO operations."
NATO has established a separate COVID-19 task force within Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) which is tasked with coordinating the use of armed forces and crisis stocks as well as the logistics of medical aid.
Thus far, the alliance has primarily supported member countries with air transport, which has delivered aid i the form of protective masks, respirators and field hospitals.
"It is also very important for Estonia to demonstrate its solidarity with allies who are suffering the most in the current phase of the crisis," Luik said. "The donation of medical personal protective equipment (PPE) to Spain and Italy has been highly appreciated and awaited."
Also present at Wednesday's video meeting was High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell and the defense ministers of Finland and Sweden.
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Editor: Aili Vahtla