Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Centre) dropped by at a military exercise taking place close to Tallinn on Thursday, Baltic News Service reports.
The exercise runs through various amphibious landing scenarios and involves all three services, including elements of Britain's elite Royal Marines Commandos, together with members of the voluntary Defence League (Kaitselliit). It is the culmination of Exercise Baltic Protector, which began in May and involves several NATO and other allies.
Ratas noted the signal the Baltic Protector gives regarding Estonia's allies' commitments to the region and their readiness in jointly responding to threats.
"The best way to rehearse defending Estonia with our allies is to do it in Estonia itself," Ratas said.
"In crisis cases in our region, units of the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) would likely be the first in action. As a result, this exercise above all helps to ensure peace for Estonia. On the other hand, personnel also embody the unity, strength and determination of our allies, and serve as a firm reaffirmation of allied forces' cooperation capabilities," he added.
Ratas met Royal Marines personnel and noted the impressive contribution from the U.K. to preserving security in the Baltic region.
He also alluded to the precedent set by British forces' participation in the Estonian War of Independence a century ago, noting Baltic Protector is the biggest deployment of troops from that country since that time.
Ratas also pointed out progress made by domestic national defense and security forces, adding that the state's defense capability is on firm ground.
"I would like to thank all units of the Defence League, the Navy and the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) who have contributed to the success of the exercise," he said.
Baltic Protector kicked off in Denmark in May and its scope has ranged across the Baltic Sea, culminating in the amphibious landing exercise in the vicinity of Valkla-Salmistu, on Estonia's northern coast.
The JEF is British led and incorporates around 3,000 Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish and Finnish troops, and 20 warships, BNS reports.
The goal of the exercise is to test the transnational cooperation of Estonia's defence forces and to rehearse naval tactics, amphibious raids and operations.
British Ambassador to Estonia Theresa Bubbear also visited the exercise in progress on Thursday.
An exciting morning watching an impressive demonstration by all 3 British Services, working with #Estonia and other #JEF partners on #BalticProtector #JEFtogether @BritishArmy @ArmyAirCorps @RoyalAirForce @RoyalNavy @RoyalMarines pic.twitter.com/o6RgtvmUyj— Theresa Bubbear (@TBubbearFCO) July 4, 2019
President Kersti Kaljulaid had already paid a visit to personnel involved in the exercise, at Salmistu harbor, on Wednesday.
Editor: Andrew Whyte