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Minister of Defence Hanso: We help and support our Ukrainian friends

7. October 2016 - 16:11

Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso met today with Ukrainian Minster of Defence Stepan Poltorak, who is currently visiting Estonia, and emphasised the continuation of Estonia's strong support for Ukraine's attempts at integration with the European community.

“Ukraine is making a serious effort to carry out extensive reforms while at the same time fighting a military conflict in East-Ukraine and we are attempting to fully support Ukraine’s implementation of reforms,” said Hanso.  “Estonia will never recognise the unlawful annexation of Crimea by Russia, and supports Ukraine's attempts to restore its territorial integrity and sovereignty across the entire territory of Ukraine.”

According to Minister of Defence Hanso, the Comprehensive Assistance Package (CAP) for Ukraine, adopted within the framework of the NATO-Ukraine Commission at NATO’s Warsaw Summit, was a very important milestone.

“This package provides a good framework for broader support from member countries and guidelines for the carrying out of reforms in the defence and security sector in Ukraine.  In order for the CAP to be successful, dedication and a common effort from NATO member countries as well as Ukraine are necessary,” said Hanso.

Hanso confirmed that Estonia plans to continue training Ukrainian special operations forces in cooperation with the United States and Poland within the framework of Joint Multinational Training Group – Ukraine (JMTG-U).

Estonia is prepared to continue with mutually beneficial cooperation in the field of medicine and to help in the process of modernising Ukraine's military medicine system. The project at Seli Health Centre, providing rehabilitation to those wounded in combat in Ukraine, will also continue.

Hanso thanked Minister of Defence Poltorak for training combat engineers of the Estonian Defence Forces, and the plan is to once again send combat engineers to Ukraine next year for training.

Ukrainian Minister of Defence Stepan Poltorak thanked the government and people of Estonia for their support, which has been demonstrated for Ukraine since the first day of the war.

“Ukraine chose democracy as the path it would follow, and right now we are paying a high price for this decision,” said Army General Poltorak at the press conference. “We have made the decision to move towards Europe and NATO. We will not be deviating from this path.”

According to Minister of Defence Poltorak, Russia has brought 40,000 combatants and 600 tanks into occupied Ukrainian territory.

“Ukraine has no choice but to create a strong army; one that is capable of defending its country, building up the economy, including the defence industry, and strengthening our democratic society,” said Minister of Defence Poltorak.

During his visit, Ukrainian Minister of Defence General Stepan Poltorak will also be meeting with Commander of the Defence Forces, Lieutenant General Riho Terras; Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu, Marko Mihkelson; and Jüri Luik, Director of the International Centre for Defence and Security, and will also visit Ämari Air Base.

General Poltorak will also be meeting with members of the Ukrainian armed forces currently undergoing rehabilitation in Estonia and representatives of the Ukrainian community in Estonia, and expressing thanks to mutual and non-profit sector activists who have supported Ukraine over the past few years.

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