Defense minister: EDF work in Poland good demonstration of solidarity

Defense minister Kalle Laanet (Reform) chatting via video link Monday to the EDF members deployed in Poland.
Defense minister Kalle Laanet (Reform) chatting via video link Monday to the EDF members deployed in Poland. Source: Ministry of Defense

Cooperation between Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) personnel and their Polish colleagues has been very strong, defense minister Kalle Laanet (Reform) said. An EDF unit arrived in Poland earlier this month, and was deployed there following significant migratory pressure placed on the border from the Belarusian side.

Laanet said Monday that: "The mission is important both for showing solidarity and for providing practical help."

"At the Warsaw security conference in the beginning of October, we offered our help. When the hybrid situation arose on the Polish-Belarusian border, we were ready to make the decision and the Polish side agreed to receive the Estonian unit," the minister added.

Laanet made his remarks during a virtual meeting with his Polish counterpart, Mariusz Błaszczak, Monday, one of a series of meetings planned with the defense ministers of countries in the region.

The meeting was originally supposed to take place face-to-face, in Poland, but poor weather grounded the Estonian minister and meant the meeting went ahead via video link.

The meeting also involved personnel from the EDF unit currently deployed in Poland. Its commander, Lt. Col. Mikk Pukk, said that things had been going well.

"The locals have supported us and welcomed us in a very warm and positive way," he said.

"The landscape and the weather make constructing the border harder, however, but in cooperation with the Polish units we are building around 5 km of border barriers per day. The work of the Estonian unit is invaluable in terms of real action taken," Pukk added.

Pukk's EDF contingent is working side-by-side with nearly 23,000 Polish soldiers who are out on the border daily, the defense ministry reports.

Polish Minister of Defence Błaszczak thanked Estonia and minister Laanet personally for speedily dispatching the unit to Poland, and for the ongoing work.

 Laanet thanked his colleague in return, saying the support and warm reception that the EDF forces have experienced in Poland over the past month has been great.

The ministers also discussed the security situation on the borders of Belarus, Ukraine, and the recent demands which the Russian Federation has made to the West, regarding NATO.

After arriving in Poland early on in December, the EDF pioneer unit began placing wire barriers in the Lublin Voivodeship area, a task it was already familiar with having carried out similar activity at home in Estonia, during the Okas snap military exercise.

Estonia, via the civilian Police and Border Guard Board (PPA), has also been providing personnel, concertina wire, drones and other surveillance equipment to Lithuania since the summer, when the migrant crisis precipitated by Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko began.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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