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Kallas: Madrid goal is decisions to strengthen NATO's Eastern flank defense

Kaja Kallas.
Kaja Kallas. Source: Ken Mürk/ERR

According to Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, Estonia's main goal at the NATO summit, which gets underway today in Madrid, is to reach political decisions to strengthen the defence of the alliance'ss Eastern flank.

"The new security situation requires NATO to create a more effective (state of) preparedness for the rapid defence of the Baltic countries. The presence of permanently strengthened allied forces and military capabilities on land, at sea and in the air, as well as a functioning chain of command to lead these forces and capabilities, are necessary to achieve this aim in our region," the Prime Minister said.

Kallas said that Estonia is working with its allies to create a "forward defense" and must make sure that NATO battle groups for the defense of the Baltic States are strengthened. Additional specialised units, which would be ready to act immediately, must also be designated for crisis and war situations, according to Kallas.

A new long-term deterrence and defense posture would build on the current presence of NATO allies in Estonia and take it to a new level. "We need a military-smart but resource-efficient solution. This will be a long-term process, and the decisions taken at the Madrid Summit must provide the basis for this. Madrid is part of the journey, not the end of the road," Kallas said. She added that Estonia has already agreed to work with the United Kingdom to create a divisional level command structure, with work already underway to iron out the details.

Kallas believes that the allies gathered in Madrid must use the oppotunity to send a clear message in support of Ukraine. "The NATO States must continue to support Ukraine so that Ukraine will win and that Ukraine will be the one to establish the terms of peace. Military assistance is important here, especially the provision of heavy weapons," she said. "NATO's open-door policy must also continue. Naturally, we continue to support the rapid progress of Finland's and Sweden's NATO accession process," added the Prime Minister.

According to Estonia's Defense Minister Kalle Laanet, who, along with Prime Minister Kallas and acting Foreign Minister Andres Sutt, is also a part of the Estonian delegation in Madrid, the forthcoming decisions reflect a generational change in NATO's deterrence and defense posture. "We are entering a new era in which the most important task of NATO's allies is collective defense and deterrence. This means that the enemy will realise that an attack would cost them too much. The implementation of these decisions requires a large contribution from each ally, including defense spending, "added Laanet.

Acting Foreign Minister Andres Sutt, who is also Estonia's Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology, said that NATO is also paying increasing attention to new and innovative technologies, which will help to maintain the alliance's technological superiority in the future. Sutt added that a new innovation fund will be created at the Madrid Summit specifically for this purpose. "The war in Ukraine has shown that various technological solutions, such as drones, play an increasing role on the battlefield. Therefore, it is important to ensure that the alliance is a leader in new technological developments, and we have contributed a great deal as a state to the creation of the new innovation fund," Sutt said. The acting Foreign Minister added that it is important to maintain and further strengthen the unity of the allies at the Madrid Summit, especially from the point of view of transatlantic relations.

In addition to strengthening NATO's Eastern flank, ways to continue supporting Ukraine and the potential accession of Finland and Sweden to the alliance are among the key issues to be discussed at this week's summit in Madrid.

Speaking at a briefing ahead of the summit, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the number of the alliance's high readiness forces was set to increase from 40,000 to "well over 300,000." According to Sky News, the number of troops stationed in countries "closest to Russia" is also expected to grow.

More information about Estonia's aims at the 2022 NATO summit in Madrid can be found in this ERR interview with the Ministry of Defense's Madis Roll here.

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Editor: Michael Cole

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