U.S.-made Javelin anti-tank weapons systems donated by Estonia started to arrive in Ukraine on Friday, the Ministry of Defense said.
Lt. Gen. Martin Herem, Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF), said: "This is a small step by Estonia in support of Ukraine, but it is a real and tangible contribution to defense against Russian aggression."
"At the moment, these missiles are more useful for Estonia's security in defense of Ukraine rather than at a live firing exercise on an Estonian training area," Herem added. The systems had previously been in EDF use.
Ukraine's Minister of Defense Oleksii Reznikov wrote on social media that the country appreciates the support from its "friends".
"We see-we aren't alone," he wrote. "Today we got Javelins from our friends, neighbors & partners - Estonia."
I appreciate the support of all friends of at this time!We see-we aren't alone. Today we got Javelins from our friends,neighbors&partners-#Estonia!Im grateful to all Estonians,Government&Embassy for their suppor to in all areas:from diplomatic to military-technical pic.twitter.com/90opftyLL6— Oleksii Reznikov (@oleksiireznikov) February 18, 2022
Estonia's defense minister Kalle Laanet (Reform) said: "The security situation at Ukraine's border today requires comprehensive practical assistance; words alone are clearly no longer enough."
In recent weeks, Russia has massed approximately 150,000 personnel on the border with Ukraine. Additionally, around 20,000 Russian troops are stationed in Belarusian territory, ostensibly to take part in joint exercises. Latvia and Lithuania have also sent lethal aid to Ukraine.
Experts and western intelligence believe a further attack on Ukraine by Russia is likely.
A Javelin is a shoulder-operated, portable, medium-range fire-and-forget anti-tank missile system made in the U.S. They have an effective range of around 2 km.
The U.S. military has used the weapons in Iraq and Afghanistan and the EDF had been using Javelins since 2015.
While the EDF had acquired the systems from the U.S., under international law, Estonia needed permission to donate the weapons.
Permission requested from Germany to send Soviet-era howitzers, which had been in service with the then East German military and then inherited by the Bundeswehr after reunification, has not been granted.
Although deliveries of Javelins to Estonia took place as recently as 2020, the system has been largely superseded by Israeli-made Spike SR, 500 of which arrived in-country last month.
Editor: Andrew Whyte