While the stationing in Estonia of Norwegian Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile Systems (NASAMS) units in Spanish military service, a process which began in April this year, is due to draw to an end in the coming weeks, Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur (Reform) has called for the tour to be extended in duration.
Minister Pevkur expressed hopes that the Spanish mission in Estonia would be extended while speaking ahead of an informal meeting of European defense ministers, in Toledo, in Spain itself, to take place at the end of August.
He said: "We have negotiated with them already. We hope to reach an agreement at the informal meeting of European defense ministers in Spain, in less than a month's time, to extend their stay here."
Pevkur was optimistic about this happening.
"Preliminary indications show that we can reach this agreement. /.../ The Finns would also have an option, while after the Finnish elections, the new defense minister was able to visit Estonia, so we briefly talked about it then."
The decision made at the NATO Vilnius summit earlier this month to commence air defense rotational missions in the Baltic countries, along the lines of an air security mission comprising fighters jets, has not yet been seen all spaces taken up by participating nations.
Estonia lacks fast jets, meaning that it and the other two Baltic states rely on those which allied nations do have – the NATO Baltic air policing mission based at Ämari has been running for nearly a decade now and has seen the air forces of France, Britain, Italy, the Czech Republic and several others, as well as Spain's, taking part.
The new plan is an expansion of this to include more surface-to-air missiles and other aspects of air defense.
At the same time, many NATO European nations have been providing air defense systems to Ukraine, meaning their resources are being stretched in any case.
Spain sent NASAMS systems to Estonia in spring this year, the first NATO country to do so, with an initial pledge of a four-month deployment.
Spain has similarly placed NASAMS batteries in Latvia.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael
Source: 'Aktuaalne kaamera'