Minister of Defence Jüri Luik met in Muhumaa with his Finnish counterpart, Jussi Niinistö, in order to discuss defence cooperation between the two countries as well as regional security.
According to Minister of Defence Luik, defence cooperation between Estonian and Finland has been highly successful over the years. ‘Finland is a reliable friend to Estonia, and one of our most important security partners,’ stated Luik.
Luik noted that Estonia has worked together with Finland on mutually beneficial supply and procurement efforts, for example, the two countries have purchased radar systems together and are currently in the process of acquiring K9 self-propelled howitzers. Estonia has also cooperated with its neighbouring country in the field of capability development. Minister Luik thanked the Finnish Government for its newly approved decision to sell 155mm ammunition to Estonia.
‘We share a very similar approach to security with our neighbour to the north, which is why close cooperation and the sharing of information between our two countries is self-explanatory,' stated Minister of Defence Luik.
At the meeting, Luik recognised Niinistö for Finland's significant contribution to the large-scale training exercise Siil 2018, and invited units from the Finnish Defence Forces to once again participate in the training exercise Kevadtorm next spring.
At their meeting the ministers covered defence cooperation developments within the European Union. ‘The decisions that were approved last year, for example, the creation of permanent structured cooperation, i.e. PESCO, will now begin to be put in practice,’ said Luik. At the same time, Luik welcomed the participation of Finland in Estonia’s unmanned ground based systems project, proposed within the framework of PESCO.
The ministers of defence also discussed matters relating to Russian military training exercises. ‘The fact that training exercise Vostok 2018 is taking place comes as no surprise. Russia organises annual strategic military exercises that encompass the entirety of its military command, and the scale of the Vostok exercise demonstrates Russia's long-term focus on developing its capability to wage a large-scale war,’ said Luik. Be that as it may, he added that the course of the exercise and active period will be monitored with great care.
With its high level expert assessment, Finland is contributing to the operation of NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence and the Baltic Defence College, both located in Estonia.
Finland and Estonia have both deployed members of their Defence Forces to NATO operation KFOR, in Kosovo, and Resolute Support, in Afghanistan. Both countries are also contributing to UN operations in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Mali, (MINUSMA) and the Middle East (UNTSO), as well as European Union operations in Mali, Somalia and the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, they are both contributing to the operation Inherent Resolve, taking place in Iraq.