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Estonia to contribute to EU Aspides military operation in Red Sea region

28. March 2024 - 15:27
Eesti osaleb Euroopa Liidu sõjalisel operatsioonil Punase mere regioonis
Eesti osaleb Euroopa Liidu sõjalisel operatsioonil Punase mere regioonis

The Government of Estonia decided today on Estonia's participation in the European Union's military operation EUNAVFOR Aspides in the Red Sea region. The duration of the operation is initially planned to be one year, to be extended if necessary.

"Despite the war in Europe, we must be ready to contribute to other hot spots in the world together with our Allies, because it also affects our security here in Europe. Moreover, the attacks in the Red Sea region have an impact on world economy and trade," Minister of Defence of Estonia Hanno Pevkur said.

In recent months, attacks by Houthi rebels on cargo and warships in the Red Sea have worsened the security situation in the entire region. Launched by the European Union in February, the aim of the EUNAVFOR Aspides military operation is to restore freedom of navigation on the Red Sea and ensure the safety of vessels in the region by protecting ships from attacks and escorting vessels within the entire operational area. The operation is of a defensive nature, with no military strikes conducted against land targets within the operation.

The operation is coordinated with the Prosperity Guardian coalition of the willing and led by the United States. Greece is the lead country of the European Union operation, France, Germany and Italy contribute with vessels. In addition, Finland, Sweden, Poland, Spain, Czechia, Romania, Portugal, the Netherlands, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Austria, Malta and Cyprus have announced their participation. An Estonian naval service member will start serving on board of the Italian Navy vessel as soon as possible, in line with the existing mandate of the Riigikogu.

The operational area includes Bab el Mandeb and the Strait of Hormuz, the Red and Arabian seas and the international maritime routes of Aden, Oman and the Persian Gulf, where the Houthi rebels have carried out numerous attacks, especially against merchant ships, since October 2023. Such attacks endanger the lives of seafarers, limit the freedom of navigation and the right to pass through straits for the purpose of transit, as stipulated in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Houthi attacks have a detrimental effect on commercial shipping and the economies of the countries of the European Union and the Red Sea region.

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