Estonia continues to bear the torch for Ukraine's defense and security, including in its desire to join NATO and the European Union, defense minister Kalle Laanet (Reform) says. Laanet held a phone meeting with his Ukrainian counterpart Andrii Taran Tuesday.
Ukrainian security and that not only of Estonia but of Europe as a whole are inter-twined, he told Taran, who has been minister for a little over a year.
"Estonia has always supported Ukraine's aspirations to join the EU and NATO and the reforms that Ukraine must carry out on this path," Laanet said, according to a ministry press release.
"The situation on the border of eastern Ukraine remains complicated, despite promises by Russia to withdraw its troops, we are seeing that Russia is still pressuring Ukraine via political, informational and military means. That is why it was important for me to receive information directly from the Ukrainian Minister of Defense on the current situation on Ukraine's borders," he went on, noting that preparations for the annual large scale Russian military exercise Zapad are already underway in regions close to both Ukraine and Estonia (Zapad being the Russian word for west – ed.).
The two ministers pledged to continue bilateral defensive cooperation, including in the cyber sphere, while Laanet said he would raise the issue at NATO level in a meeting with defense ministers from allied nations.
The Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) Seli facility in Rapla County has treated 165 wounded Ukrainian military personnel since fall 2015, while the Baltic Defense College in Tartu has been training personnel from Ukraine for nearly 20 years, the ministry says.
Prime minister Kaja Kallas visited eastern Ukraine, a region blighted by ongoing conflict which began in 2014, the same year the Russian Federation annexed Crimea, last month.
Editor: Andrew Whyte