Defense minister: UK contribution to Estonian security 'extraordinary'

The British and Estonian flags alongside each other.
The British and Estonian flags alongside each other. Source: ministry of defense

The bilateral defensive relationship between the United Kingdom and Estonia is exemplary, defense minister Kalle Laanet (Reform) says, at a time when the European Union's eastern frontier is seeing intense pressure from Belarus, whose regime has been using migrants in its hybrid warfare efforts against the union, and with a view to impressing Russia.

Laanet said Thursday that: "The contribution of the U.K. to security in the Baltic region and their lead role in eFP has been extraordinary," adding that the bilateral defensive cooperation has been both substantial and diversified.

"In addition, we are working together with the British in several other cooperation formats, such as the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) and the Northern Group," Laanet went on, according to a ministry press release.

The minister made his remarks after meeting with U.K. armed forces minister James Heappey in Tallinn, where the frameworks of the British-led NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) based at Tapa, as well as the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission based at Ämari, were particularly in focus.

This bilateral cooperation will gain further impetus, Laanet said, in connection with the innovation agreement for NATO's Defence Innovation Accelerator for the North Atlantic (DIANA), signed in October.

DIANA aims to link the research and development centers of NATO member states and support technological progress.

The joint tender with the U.K. will increase opportunities to implement the ideas proposed within the framework of DIANA and to promote defense cooperation.

James Heappey also spoke at the Annual Baltic Conference on Defense (ABCD) conference in Tallinn, and visited the eFP at Tapa, while he was in Estonia.

The U.K.'s current defense minister is Ben Wallace, who was in Estonia on an official visit last December.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has in recent years visited Estonia and the base at Tapa, both in his current capacity, in December 2019, and while he was foreign minister, in 2017.

Britain's Royal Air Force last held the rotating air policing role in summer 2019, while the current lead unit with the Tapa eFP is the Royal Tank Regiment.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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