Defense minister: JEF strengthens both Baltic and European security

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Minister of Defense Kalle Laanet, in front of the defense ministry building in Tallinn. Source: ERR

The United Kingdom-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), a large-scale naval initiative involving most maritime northern European countries, plays a key role in guaranteeing the security of the Baltic and the wider European sphere, defense minister Kalle Laanet (Reform) says.

Laamet said Thursday that: "The JEF has an important role to play in strengthening security in the Baltic Sea region and Europe in general."

The defense minister was taking part in a remote-linked meeting with his U.K. opposite number Ben Wallace.

"The first role for the JEF in any crisis situation is the operational transplantation of the forces and deterrence. This requires practicing smooth co-operation between participating countries, which we can also do this autumn at the Joint Protector training exercise," Laanet went on, according to a ministry press release.

Laanet and Wallace both noted the efficacy of the JEF joint naval operation Expone, which ran through March across the Baltic Sea, and talked about the need for similar operations in the future.

The ministers also discussed Ukraine and the military buildup on Russia's side of the border between the two countries, while Ben Wallace presented the Post-Brexit Integrated Review.

The JEF is U.K.-led and is joined by allies including Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Iceland and the Netherlands, in addition to Estonia.

The coalition's focal points include the North Atlantic as well as the Baltic, with the U.K.'s Royal Navy and other armed forces providing the necessary command and force elements, which the member states will supplement with their own capabilities.

 The next JEF defense ministers' meeting is scheduled for June, in Helsinki.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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