You are here

Historic decisions in Madrid today on strengthening NATO's Eastern Flank and the defence of Estonia

29. June 2022 - 18:03
Madrid, 29 June 2022 – Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said that at today’s NATO summit in Madrid, Allies were completely united and there has been a significant shift in NATO’s mindset: Russia has become the major threat to NATO and its allies.

    “I am glad that for the first time since the Cold War this is exactly how Russia is perceived in the new strategy just approved by NATO,” Kallas said. Estonia considers it vital that NATO’s collective defence is considerably reinforced.  “We agreed that in response to Russia’s aggression, NATO would move to a new forward defence posture that makes it possible to defend every square centimetre of NATO territory from the very first moments of an attack. To achieve this, concrete decisions were taken today on strengthening the Eastern Flank,” Kallas added.

    Kallas said it was crucial to begin implementing this change of direction immediately after the decision by NATO heads of state and government. “For Estonia, this means cooperating with Allies on developing a division-sized unit and its leadership structure, which would be ready to defend Estonia in case of a conflict,” Kallas underlined.

    According to Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, it is also very important that the allies decided to invite Finland and Sweden to join NATO. The accession protocols will be signed shortly. “Finland and Sweden joining NATO strengthens the security of us all. We have supported Finland and Sweden on their accession journey from day one and we will continue to support them throughout their process of joining NATO,” Kallas said.

    According to Defence Minister Kalle Laanet, there will be a divisional structure established for the defence of Estonia in the framework of NATO, and its units and headquarters will include contributions by Estonia and Allies. "The divisional  structure will be launched under the leadership of Estonia and in co-operation with the United Kingdom. Work on of the division will begin in the coming months. The division will be under NATO chain of command," Laanet said.

    The defence minister added that the Allies decided to strengthen the Eastern Flank by scaling up to brigade-sized units in those countries where the threat and need for military reinforcement are the greatest. "The United Kingdom has decided to deploy an additional brigade to defend Estonia, with a force integration unit and some of its subunits set to be based in Estonia," Laanet said. It is crucial that elements of the United Kingdom brigade with additional capabilities will rotate to Estonia in peacetime and practice the defence of Estonia in real conditions on the ground. This ensures a high level of preparedness and comprehensive cooperation with Estonian units in crisis and in war.

    Two British battalions and French and Danish companies will remain in Estonia for the foreseeable future. The Baltic Air Policing mission will also continue to operate in Estonia, and Allies can reinforce it quickly.

    The defence minister added that the United States would significantly increase its military presence in Europe. „The United States will also increase their rotating military presence in the Baltic countries. This decision would presumably include both land and air force units, including air defence. The exact details will be worked out in collaboration with allies,“ Laanet said.

    Andres Sutt, Minister of Entrepreneurship and Information Technology and acting Foreign Minister, said the summit, which included an address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, reaffirmed NATO’s continued support to Ukraine and adopted an additional support package for Ukraine. “With the new package, Ukraine will be provided with the equipment they currently need on the battlefield and the defence forces of Ukraine will be given support in switching to NATO standards and modern Western weapons systems,” Minister Sutt said. He added the summit also reiterated the continuation of NATO’s open door policy. “Ukraine and Georgia still have a NATO membership perspective as stated at the 2008 NATO summit,” Sutt said.