Lieutenant Colonel Eero Kinnunen has been appointed Estonia's new defense attaché to Ukraine, ETV news show 'Aktuaalne kaamera' (AK) reported Sunday. Kinnunen, who had been commander of the Defense League's (Kaitseliit) Harju military district, says he is taking on the new role Ukraine at a turning point in the current conflict.
Lt Col.Kinnunen, who has been in the military since 1995, ended his seven-year service with the Defense League on Sunday and was eligible for retirement but opted to take on the defense attache posting instead. He will be promoted to Colonel ahead of the stint, which lasts three years, and has already been to Ukraine for a familiarization trip.
He told AK that: "I went to Ukraine as an escort to the chief of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) and got acquainted with my future service tasks. The appointment was an unexpected, but pleasant one - a new challenge, and definitely difficult. This is what I like about it."
"I think that the biggest help in this is that you have the language skills," Kinnunen went on.
"And you also understand a little about this military activity /.../ I'm afraid that this will be a turning point in the battles in Ukraine, a month from now," he added.
Earlier on in his career, Kinnunen had served with the Soviet Union's Spetsnaz in the Soviet war in Afghanistan in the 1980s, and he and his unit were tasked with attacking Mujahideen supply columns. He later returned to Afghanistan when he headed up the independent Estonian mission there, which supported the western-led alliance fighting the Taliban.
His resume also includes stints as an EDF platoon commander, company commander and battalion commander, and heading up the first EDF foreign mission to Iraq, as well as commander of the operational department of the EDF General Staff. As noted he had been commander of the Defense League's Harju district up until now.
Estonia's defense attache to Kyiv had until now been Col. Vahur Murulaid.
Editor: Andrew Whyte