Defense minister Kalle Laanet (Reform) reiterated calls for the permanent placing of the command structure of a NATO divisional-sized unit in Estonia, following a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels which also featured NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
Minister Laanet said after the meeting that: "Our proposal is that a command unit and additional capabilities could be permanently present in each of the Baltic States."
"This would ensure, if necessary, the command of a division-sized force and the interoperability on land, in the air and at sea. In addition, pre-positioned weapons and equipment should be in place for any potential reinforcement units coming to Estonia. From the Madrid Summit, we hope for clear decisions that will lead towards achieving this," Laanet continued, according to a defense ministry press release.
Such a decision is necessary given the current security situation, he added.
"Russia's goals for Europe are unambiguously clear. We cannot rule out a Russian attack on NATO allies, which is why we, as NATO member countries, must be prepared. Only credible deterrence will ensure security, and for this a stronger defense posture is needed at NATO's eastern flank," the minister went on.
The defense ministers also discussed increasing NATO common funding and burden sharing among member countries; while the minimum contribution is 2 percent of GDP, Laanet noted, for Estonia, by 2024 the figure will stand at 2.6 percent, necessitated by the changed security situation and the need to, for instance, expand the capacity to host NATO allied personnel and equipment.
Military assistance to Ukraine was discussed in the format convened by the U.S. which Laanet called "crucial for the final outcome of the war," was also on the table at Friday's meeting, while minister Laanet also met bilaterally with his German counterpart Christine Lambrecht, where he thanked Germany for its leadership in strengthening NATO's eastern flank.
Laanet also met the new Minister of Defence of France Sebastien Lecornu; France is a contributory nation with the NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup based at Tapa.
The ministers of defense of the three Baltic States also met with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin Friday, discussing the defense of the region.
Editor: Andrew Whyte