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Estonia declines Russian invitation to Moscow for bilateral defense talks

Estonia will not accept the Russian Ministry of Defense's invittation to hold bilateral defense-related consultations in Moscow.

On Wednesday, the Estonian Ministry of Defense gave a formal answer to the Russian defense attaché in Estonia, stating that the ministry is unable to accept the invitation to Moscow for bilateral military-political consultations, a spokesman for the Estonian ministry told BNS.

The ministry does not deem it possible to strengthen bilateral military cooperation with Russia as NATO's 2014 decision to stop all practical civil and military cooperation with Russia in response to the latter's annexation of Crimea is still in force, the spokesman explained. The reasons behind the decision still apply, as Russia continues to participate in military activities in East Ukraine.

At the same time, the Estonian ministry stated that it is interested in a dialogue regarding increasing security and mutual trust with Russia in existing international formats, mainly within the framework of the NATO-Russia Council and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The Ministry of Defence affirmed that it considers it important to hold a dialogue with Russia by coordinating it with other NATO and EU member states. "The strength of NATO and the EU is close mutual cooperation and the goal of the Estonian Ministry of Defense is to increase that strength," explained the ministry.

According to the Estonian ministry, bilateral consultations with the Russian ministry of defense will not help strengthen the unity of NATO and the EU but rather create an opportunity for Vladimir Putin's regime to play member states against each other. Furthermore, the proposal was directed toward the bilateralization of issues that belong in the international framework, which is not beneficial to Russia.

According to Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso, there are several agreements that the Russian side is not fulfilling when it comes to security issues, for instance the use of transponders, aggressive flight maneuvers, and other similar incidents. "There are many issues to discuss, but formats for this already exist and we won't solve these issues bilaterally," he said.

"In my opinion, we can't talk about only the security of the Baltic Sea region regarding the issues; security in Europe is unified and indivisible," stressed Hanso, adding that the behavior of the Russian Army as well as its air force is unpredictable on a global level.

Over the summer, Russia proposed holding defense-related talks with Estonia regarding the military-political situation in Europe and, if possible, find ways for improving cooperation between their two respective ministries, including to discuss the security situation in Europe and the Baltic Sea region as well as issue regarding military exercises and military flights, dangerous military activities and the use of transponders.

Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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