Estonia, Lithuania defense ministers: Cooperation key ahead of Zapad 2021

Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet (Reform).
Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet (Reform). Source: ERR

The three Baltic States are stronger together on matters of security, defense minister Kalle Laanet (Reform) says.

Following a meeting with his Lithuanian counterpart Arvydas Anušauskas at Tapa base Tuesday, Laanet said that: "Close defensive cooperation between the Baltic States serves as the cornerstone for strengthening the region. By acting together, we are sending a clear message to our Allies and the aggressor that we must be viewed as a whole."

Anušauskas was on a one-day official visit to Estonia.

The two ministers also discussed the current situation on Ukraine's borders, and this fall's large-scale Russian military exercise Zapad ("West") 2021, as well as defensive cooperation between the northernmost and southernmost of the two Baltic States.

"We must actively monitor Russia's activities and continue to support Ukraine," Laanet said, according to a ministry press release.

"We are monitoring the situation with great concern, both on the Ukrainian border and within the framework of the Zapad 2021 exercise, and we are exchanging information with Lithuania and our other allies," Laanet added.

Maintaining and raising situational awareness, as well as assessing a defensvee and deterrence posture on a flexible basis, were key for all three Baltic States come August, when Zapad starts, the two ministers said.

Lithuania also holds the presidency of Baltic Defense Cooperation in 2021, and has made cooperation in capability development with the Baltic States and their allies a priority during that time, the Estonian defense ministry says.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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