Wednesday, Minister of Defence Jüri Luik participated in a secure video conference between NATO Defence Ministers, where the discussions focused on the Alliance’s activities and maintaining defence readiness under the conditions of COVID-19 outbreak.
‘For Estonia, it is important that our Allies share the understanding that the current health and economic crisis also has a strong security dimension. Examples of this are the aggressive disinformation, cyber and hybrid campaigns against West, which provide Allies with confirmation that we can have no illusions concerning the security environment. The core of NATO's activities will remain deterrence and defence,’ Minister of Defence Luik said, according to whom it is also important that the armed forces are ready to support society and able to take care of their troops, because their military readiness depends on it.
At the meeting, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and General Tod Wolters, NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), briefed Allies on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on NATO's defence posture and operations. ‘Our Allies emphasised the need to maintain defence expenditures and confirmed their full commitment to NATO operations, including the Allied presence at Tapa and Ämari. Estonia will also continue to participate in NATO operations,' Luik added.
NATO has set up a separate COVID-19 Task Force within Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), which is tasked with coordinating the use of armed forces and crisis stocks, as well as the logistics of medical aid.
Thus far, NATO has mainly supported member countries with the air transport, which has delivered aid in the form of protective masks, respirators and field hospitals. ‘It is also very important for Estonia to demonstrate its solidarity with the Allies who are suffering the most in the current phase of the crisis. The donation of medical personal protective equipment to Spain and Italy has been highly appreciated and awaited,' added Luik.
Also participating in the meeting was Josep Borrell, the High Representative of the European Union, and the Ministers of Defence of Finland and Sweden.
NATO photos of the conference:
Additional information: roland.murof[at]kaitseministeerium[dot]ee