The establishment of a permanent NATO naval unit for the Baltic Sea is critical for Estonia, Mart Helme (EKRE), deputy chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu, said at a meeting with NATO Military Committee chairman Gen. Petr Pavel on Thursday.
"If we don't have that unit, Russia will cut us off from the rest of the world in the event of a military conflict," Helme was quoted by spokespeople as saying.
"Russia has deployed to Kaliningrad missiles the range of which extends to Sweden," he continued. "If NATO has no naval unit consisting of submarines and ships that is capable of cooperation with the air force units stationed in Germany, Poland and Norway, NATO will not be able to bring troops or equipment to Estonia."
According to the deputy committe chairman, no commander or general will agree to fly over the Baltic Sea with troops and equipment when Russian forces can shoot them down like ducks.
"In order for it to be possible to send in troops to help Estonia, a corridor needs to be established for NATO aircraft that is protected by a NATO naval unit from the surface," he said. "Otherwise we will still be left on our own."
Helme noted that he and Pavel shared the opinion that improvements in relations with Russia could not be expected anytime soon.
Editor: Aili Vahtla