Minister stresses defense investment importance with UK counterpart

U.K. Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank from the Queen's Royal Hussars with EDF personnel during Exercise Spring Storm.
U.K. Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank from the Queen's Royal Hussars with EDF personnel during Exercise Spring Storm. Source: Ministry of Defense

Defense minister Jüri Luik (Isamaa) has stressed the importance of defense investments and common ground with the United Kingdom, while meeting with his opposite number from that country, Ben Wallace.

The two ministers spoke on the phone, the Estonian Ministry of Defense reports, with Wallace highlighting that the U.K.'s new integrated defense review will renew its emphasis on strengthening U.K. armed forces presence abroad and additional resources to be allocated for investments, including for the modernization of those armed forces.

Jüri Luik said he welcomed the U.K.'s decisions despite the period of macroeconomic pressures, and expressed thanks for the continued commitment to the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup, based in Tapa, which is British-led.

"The U.K. closely shares our view of the security threats that we face, and has always been a key ally to Estonia, dating back to the Estonian War of Independence (1918-1920 - ed.) and to this day protecting our shared liberty and freedom," Luik said, according to a ministry press release.

The eFP was formed following the 2016 Warsaw Summit where the alliance pledged to beef up its presence in the Baltic States and Poland.

Other regular nations contributing to the Tapa eFP rotations are France, Denmark, Belgium and also Iceland.

Latvia's eFP is Canadian-led, and comprises several other nations. Lithuania's is German-led while Poland's eFP is headed up by the U.S.

Luik and Wallace also discussed the situation in Belarus in the wake of violent crackdowns following August's presidential election in that country, as well as security threats in the wider region.

Both ministers agreed that the threats around us have not changed, and necessitate continued investment into defense, the ministry says.

The future of NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, which both countries contribute to, and cooperation within the U.K.'s high-readiness Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) format were also on the table.

Defensive cooperation between the U.K. and Estonia date back a century. Britain's Royal Navy provided arms and supplies to Estonia during the war, even capturing two destroyers operated by the fledgling Soviet Russian state and handing them over to Estonia.

A submarine on display at the sea-plane harbor museum in Tallinn, the EML Lembit, was laid down in Barrow-in-Furness in the U.K. in 1936 and built to order for the First Estonian Republic. She was until 2011 worldwide the oldest submarine still afloat.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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