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Defence minister in productive meeting with Finnish counterpart

Minister of Defence Jüri Luik (Pro Patria).
Minister of Defence Jüri Luik (Pro Patria). Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Defence minister Jüri Luik (Pro Patria) met with his Finnish opposite number Jussi Niinistö in Estonia on Friday, discussing defence cooperation and regional security issues.

"Finland is Estonia's reliable friend and one of its most important security partners," Luik said, speaking after the meeting on Muhu island.

Military procurement, including the joint purchase of radar, K9 Thunder howitzers and Finland's sale of 155 mm ammunition to Estonia, exemplify the relationship, he said.

Joint approach

"We have similar security approaches, hence our close cooperation and exchange of information is obvious," Mr. Luik continued, and spoke highly of Finnish units' role in Estonian Exercise Siil (Hedgehog) 2018, inviting them back to Exercise Kevadtorm (Spring Storm) 2019.

EU defence cooperation and Russian military exercises were also covered.

"Decisions made last year, like the establishment of the permanent structured cooperation in defence (PESCO), are now practical realities," Mr. Luik said, noting Finland's role in an Estonian brainchild, the PESCO-based land systems project.

"Vostok 2018 [Russian military manoeuvres] is no surprise,'' Mr. Luik continued, saying Russia ''...annually organises strategic exercises across its military district; the scale of Vostok demonstrates its long-term focus on large-scale warfare capacity," something which Mr. Luik said will be closely monitored.

International efforts

Finland also actively contributes to NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE) and the Baltic Defence College, both in Estonia.

Both nations' troops have been with NATO in Kosovo and Afghanistan, UN operations in the Lebanon and Middle East, EU operations in Somalia and the Mediterranean, and in Mali. Both have also engaged in Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq.

Estonia is a NATO member, Finland is not.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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