Defense ministry: Increased number of allied troops would be accommodated
The Ministry of Defense confirmed that if NATO were to place more troops on its eastern border, Estonia would make sure that the permanently stationed allied soldiers would have a place to stay.
Center for Defense Investment infrastructure department director Heilika Reinvart said barracks are built in relation to the number of stationed troops and that constructing empty buildings would be a waste of the taxpayers' money.
"We certainly do not have any empty rooms, much less empty buildings. We monitor and audit our real estate situation on an ongoing basis. We know the usage rates by function. Nothing is made to just sit and wait," Reinvart said.
Defense ministry chancellor Kusti Salm said NATO stationing more troops on its borders with Russia might not mean more units in Estonia. It may be more reasonable to place units in Romania to improve military effectiveness, instead.
"Of course, we only see it from our own perspective. We can clearly see the Baltic region is a region, which needs to be strengthened in terms of deterrence. There are very clear plans on how to do that," Salm said.
He pointed to the NATO Response Force and said Estonia is prepared to welcome the 5,000 land brigade troops. "We have developed an allied reception area at Tapa, where all the equipment and weaponry can be unpacked and handed out. So units could move to their locations from there," Salm said.
The chancellor said all troops will have a place to sleep and that there are containers and tents if barracks are full. "If allies decide on stationing more units to improve military effectiveness in the region, they will not come here to sleep in barracks any way," Salm noted.
At the same time, he said more barracks do need to be put up if the number of units increases. "When the current British battle group came here, the decision was made late in the summer of 2016 and the allies arrived in April 2017. We were able to develop the infrastructure in that time. A rapid and significant achievement. I do not doubt for a second that we can do it again if the need for it comes up," the defense ministry official said.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste