Today the U.S. Secretary of Defence James Mattis met with the Baltic states Defence Ministers in Vilnius. The Ministers discussed the Baltic states defence cooperation with the U.S. and NATO‘s activities in ensuring defence in the region.
“Estonia and the other Baltic states can always rely on the U.S. leadership in the transatlantic Alliance and military support. I offered my personal gratitude to Secretary Mattis for that”, said Defence Minister Margus Tsahkna.
The Ministers also discussed the regional security situation, including the large-scale Zapad exercise this fall. “We are fully in agreement that Russia‘s activities continue to be aggressive and we condemn it”, said Defence Minister Tsahkna.
James Mattis commended Estonia for the defence expenditure. “Estonia already spends 2,2% on defence, Latvia and Lithuania will reach 2% next year. In line with the Wales and Warsaw Summits, all NATO Allies need to fulfill their self-defence commitments,” mentioned Tsahkna.
Defence Minister Tsahkna confirmed that the work on improving the Baltic states defence will continue. “There are many additional military capabilities that we need, but are independently unable to procure and maintain. We know that in the maritime and air domain we can rely on our Allies”, said Tsahkna.
The US soldiers have for years trained with Estonia’s Scouts Battalion, conscripts and reservists. US fighter aircraft, even the most modern like F-22s and F-35s, visit the Ämari air base in Estonia and conduct combat training. US naval assets have a regular presence in the Baltic Sea.
Estonian Parliament is currently discussing the ratification of the Defence Cooperation Agreement with the US, in order to create even better conditions for the US military presence.
DefMin Tsahkna to SecDef Mattis: work on improving the Baltic states defence will continue
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