Yesterday and today in Toledo, Spain, at the two-day informal meeting of the European Union ministers of defence, the discussions centred on continuing support to Ukraine in Russia’s war of aggression and European defence challenges.
“The slow pace of increasing defence spending and investment in Europe is a hindrance both to supporting Ukraine as well as raising the defence capability of our own countries. The lives of Ukrainians are at stake, but also Europe’s own ability to defend itself. The annual gross domestic product of the European Union is roughly €16 trillion, however, from the European Peace Facility we have provided support in the sum of €4,6 billion, a mere 0.03% of the European GDP. This shows that we have the joint capacity to both support Ukraine until its victory and to ensure the security of our citizens,” said the Estonian Minister of Defence Hanno Pevkur.
“This spring, we jointly agreed in the EU that we would send 1 million rounds of artillery ammunition to Ukraine by March 2024. Six months are left, however, it is clear already now that all EU member states have to contribute more to reach that goal. In addition to sending existing stocks and manufacturing new ones, we also have to quickly consider alternatives to reaching the objective, including refurbishing expiring rounds and procurements from third countries,” added minister Pevkur.
During the visit, the ministers of defence jointly visited the European Satellite Centre (SatCen), located near Madrid, for an overview of the centre’s achievements, as well as challenges stemming from Russia’s war of aggression. “SatCen is an important cooperation partner for Estonia that supports our early warning system. The Russian war in Ukraine has clearly shown the importance of military geography and satellite intelligence, therefore, we have to continue its further development,” explained minister Pevkur.
In addition, the Estonian Minister of Defence Pevkur met bilaterally with the ministers of defence of Portugal and the Netherlands to discuss strengthening the deterrence and defence posture on NATO’s eastern flank.
On the second day of the meeting, the working session was joined also by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the UN Assistant Secretary General Jean-Pierre Lacroix. As a continuance of the Vilnius Summit in June, the discussions focused on the exchange of views on the long-term impact of the Russian war of aggression on the regional and global levels. The second working day also includes a discussion on the security situation in the Sahel region.
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