Kallas: Keeping troops in Estonia a major expense for UK
In an interview with Vikerraadio's "Uudis+" on Friday, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform), who is currently in Prague for the inaugural meeting of the European Political Community (EPC), said she also spoke with British Prime Minister Liz Truss regarding the possibility of British troops leaving Estonia. According to Kallas, keeping British troops here is a major expense.
"I spoke with her separately, and we also sat next to one another at the dinner table, where we were able to discuss these issues," Kallas said regarding her British counterpart. "We agreed that she would contact me next week to talk about these issues. But she didn't state her decision yet."
When additional British troops were brought to Estonia this past winter, it was stated at the time already that their presence would be temporary, the Estonian prime minister said. "And part of this agreement was that it was for six months, but also discussed at the time with [then-]Prime Minister [Boris] Johnson was that this temporary cannot conclude if the war is still going on, as the security situation hasn't changed," she added.
"It remains a matter of budget and the fact that this is a major expense for the U.K.," Kallas acknowledged. "But they haven't actually made this decision at the political level; this was leaked from the authority level. I also explained the timing issue — all of this came at a very bad time — and she said that they are still discussing it."
Last Wednesday, British daily The Times reported that a 700-member battalion stationed in Estonia since February will be returning home to the U.K. in December, with no plans to replace it, effectively halving the number of British troops present in Estonia.
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Editor: Aili Vahtla