An all-Republican delegation of US senators on Thursday evening arrived in Estonia for a visit during which they met with Minister of Defence Jüri Luik (Pro Patria) to receive an overview of the security situation as well as discuss matters related to defence cooperation.
The delegation, which included members of the US Senate Committee on Armed Services, the Select Committee on Intelligence as well as the Committee on the Budget, was led by Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and also included Sens. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), according to a Ministry of Defence press release.
The senators noted that the US has supported the maintaining of strong transatlatic relations by means of various defence initiatives, a good example of which was the infrastructure unveiled at Ämari Air Base which enhances Estonia's capability to host allied units.
Luik said that the US' presence in Europe has a strong deterrence effect which serves a key role in ensuring peace and stability in Europe.
The Estonian minister thanked the senators for the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), in the framework of which the defence capability of allies, including Estonia, is supported with the construction of infrastructure as well as military equipment.
Luik stressed that Estonia's level of defence spending allows it to effectively utilise the US' help to support Estonia's own long-term plans.
The minister and the visiting senators also discussed the US and Estonia's very close cooperation in the field of cyber security.
Initiated in 2014, the European Deterrence Initiative is aimed at strengthening European security by means of increased US presence. A total of over $32 million has been allocated to Estonia for the development of Ämari Air Base and Tapa Army Base in the framework of the EDI.
Estonia and the US have close ties on both the political and the defence level, the Ministry of Defence said. US military units often participate in Estonian defence exercises, and Estonia also has a close relationship with the Maryland National Guard.
Editor: Aili Vahtla