Estonian Defence Minister Luik, Chief of Defence Major General Martin Herem and Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) General Tod Walters discussed the strengthening of NATO’s deterrence and defence posture in the Baltic Sea region, yesterday. Further discussions were also held on the large scale Russian military exercise Zapad, planned take place in autumn at the doorstep of the alliance's border and includes scenarios of a large scale military conflict against NATO.
“Despite all the challenges of the past and present year, NATO’s defence and deterrence posture and cooperation among allies has remained strong, which shows the alliance’s excellent ability to adapt and react,” said Defence Minister Jüri Luik.
NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe noted that the security of the Baltic Sea Region is among the key priorities within NATO and the alliance’s defence and deterrence posture in the region will continue to be enhanced. It was also noted that this year the activities of neighboring Russia will need to be closely followed when the large scale Zapad military exercise will take place with training scenarios involving a conflict against NATO.
Major General Herem added that in order to maintain NATO’s readiness and defence posture, it’s important to continue with planned exercises and activities. The Chief of Defence highlighted the example of the Estonian Defence Forces and NATO battlegroups excercises in Latvia, where training continued without a rise in infections. In the same light, Herem commended the US rocket artillery (MLRS) exercise in Estonia last autumn, which offered a unique training opportunity for the Estonian Defence Forces.
In addition, the presence of NATO forces in the Baltic States and Poland, and the Baltic Air Policing mission were discussed.
A battalion sized NATO battlegroup made up of primarily UK’s ground forces including Danish and French units has been stationed in Estonia since 2017 following Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Furthermore, since joining NATO in 2004, allied fighter jets have been patrolling the Estonian and Baltic airspace. Currently the German Eurofighter Typhoon fighter jets are carrying out the Baltic Air Policing mission from Ämari Airbase in Estonia.
Additional information: press[at]kaitseministeerium[dot]ee