Minister: Estonia, Finland to integrate coastal missile defense systems
Finland and Estonia will integrate their coastal missile defense which would allow the countries to close the Gulf of Finland to Russian warships if necessary, Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) told Finnish newspaper Iltalehti.
"We need to integrate our coastal defenses. The flight range of Estonian and Finnish missiles is greater than the width of the Gulf of Finland. This means that we can connect our missile defenses and share all our information with each other," Pevkur (Reform) said in an interview during a working visit to Finland.
Estonia will buy Israeli Blue Spear land-to-sea missiles this autumn, which have a range of 290 kilometers. Finland's MTO 85M missiles have a range of over 100 kilometers.
At the Gulf of Finland's narrowest point, there are 45 kilometers of sea between the two countries and 120km at its widest.
Pevkur said the integration of missile defense systems will make it possible to close the Gulf of Finland to Russian warships.
"The Baltic Sea will be NATO's internal sea when Finland and Sweden have joined NATO. Compared with what it is today, the situation is changing," he said.
The minister also discussed securing airspace. It has been agreed upon by NATO that the Allies will secure the whole Baltic Sea region.
"For me, this is one airspace. Everyone must understand that Norway, Finland, the Baltics and other countries form NATO's eastern flank. We are not only protecting Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania or other eastern NATO countries. When we talk about NATO, the most important thing is Article 5: one for all and all for one," he said
"Finnish airspace cannot be protected if Estonian airspace is not protected at the same time, and vice versa. Fighter jets cross the 80-kilometer-wide Gulf of Finland in minutes."
Iltaleht asked if the Americans will send F-35 fighter jets to Estonia and Pevkur said the discussions about the size of the U.S.'s presence is currently being discussed.
The Estonian and Finnish defense ministers met earlier this week in Helsinki.
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Editor: Helen Wright