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Defense minister: NATO presence needs boosting in Baltic region

Norway's defense minister Bjørn Arild Gram (left) meeting his Estonian counterpart Kalle Laanet in Tallinn, May 3 2022.
Norway's defense minister Bjørn Arild Gram (left) meeting his Estonian counterpart Kalle Laanet in Tallinn, May 3 2022. Source: Ministry of Defense

NATO's forward defensive posture needs strengthening in the current security situation, defense minister Kalle Laanet (Reform) says.

On the occasion of meeting with his Norwegian counterpart, Bjørn Arild Gram, in Tallinn on Tuesday, Laanet said that: "In the current security situation, we must immediately think about significantly strengthening NATO's presence; NATO needs a strengthened Forward Defense."

As a NATO member, this makes Norway of the utmost importance for Estonia, and vice versa.

Laanet said: "In our bilateral cooperation, Norway is an important ally for Estonia in both NATO and the Nordic region, for example in air security."

"We have similar views on security issues in the region; we rely on a reservist mindset, and there are many opportunities to expand the bilateral cooperation," the Estonian defense minister went on, according to a defense ministry press release.

Ministers Gram and Laanet discussed regional security in the region in the context of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, ahead of June's NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, while Laanet also presented Estonia's proposals for strengthening NATO's eastern flank defensive posture.

Defense minister Gram also cyber exercise CR14 and the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) while in Estonia, and talked about potential cooperation between the two countries in the cyber field.

Norway has contributed to regional NATO security in several ways and at several times down to the present, including via the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission based at Ämari and at Šiauliai, Lithuania (Norwegian air force jets have so far been based in the latter – ed.) and within the framework of NATO's Force Integration Unit ( NFIU), to which it has sent military officers to participate.

Norway has also made a significant contribution to the development of the Baltic Defense College, based in Tartu, since its establishment in 1999.

The leaders of all three Baltic States recently called for a NATO divisional strength unit in each of the three countries, to comprise both local and allied personnel.

The current NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup in Estonia, which is British-led and based at Tapa and also currently contains a Danish contingent, is roughly battalion strength.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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