UK defense secretary to discuss Ukraine aid at Tapa meeting this Thursday

Ben Wallace (left) and Hanno Pevkur, at an earlier meeting in 2022.
Ben Wallace (left) and Hanno Pevkur, at an earlier meeting in 2022. Source: Ministry of Defense (Estonian).

Britain's Defense Secretary Ben Wallace is on an official visit to Estonia this Thursday, January 19, and is due to take part in a meeting of defense ministers which will focus on further military aid to Ukraine, in the wake of Britain's' pledge to send Challenger 2 Main Battle tanks to help in shoring up Ukraine's defenses against the Russian invasion.

The meeting is set to take part at Tapa base, around an hour's drive east of Tallinn.

Estonian Ministry of Defense spokesperson Thomas Mell told ERR Tuesday m morning that: "The defense minister's meeting, ahead of the Ramstein format [meeting] is being held this time at Tapa base."

"In addition to Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur, the British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace, and the defense ministers of Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, will also be taking part," Mell continued.

The Ramstein meeting takes place in the U.S. Air Force base of the same name, in Germany, one day after the Tapa meeting.

Invitations to the Tapa meeting have been sent to representatives of a further 10 countries, with final participation to be confirmed, the ministry says.

Those countries are: Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.

Hanno Pevkur already hosted his Finnish counterpart Mikko Savola at an official meeting in Tallinn on Monday, where aid to Ukraine was also discussed.

Thursday's meeting will see Estonia, the U.K. and other participants present their latest packages of military aid to Ukraine, likely to include the heavy weaponry needed to help Ukraine break the military deadlock, nearing one year since the invasion began.

Further aid packages are expected to be finalized at the Ramstein meeting.

The U.K. has already pledged to send 14 Challenger 2 MBTs to Ukraine, as well as around 30 AS90 Self-propelled guns.

A central issue, however, ERR reports, is whether Germany will follow suit in supplying Leopard heavy tanks to Ukraine. Germany's consent is needed not only in respect of its own Leopard tanks, but also for those of several other countries who may want to send similar aid to Ukraine.

Sending heavy weaponry of this kind represents a new phase in military aid provided to Ukraine, as the Russian invasion nears the one-year mark with no sign of abating.

Ben Wallace was last on an official visit to Estonia in March 2022, shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. A former guards officer, he has served as Defense Secretary under three successive Conservative prime ministers: Boris Johnson, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mait Ots

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