Today, Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso met and planned further defence related cooperation with the Minister of Defence of Ukraine, General of the army of Ukraine Stepan Poltorak, and participated in events marking the 25th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence in Kiev.
“Ukraine is an important nation for Estonia in terms of both foreign and security policy. Over the past few years, we have vigorously developed our defence related cooperation,” said Minister of Defence Hanso. “The time is right to take our defence related cooperation to the next level.”
Minister of Defence Hanso presented an official invitation to General of the army of Ukraine Poltorak, and invited the Ukrainians to participate in training exercises in Estonia. Minister Hanso spoke of the opportunity to take the training cooperation for special operations forces to the next level, to develop cooperation between medics in the Defence Forces, and to search for opportunities for cooperation in the field of cyber defence.
According to Hanso, defence related cooperation with Ukraine is beneficial for Estonia, since Estonia is able to share its knowledge and experience and learn from the experience that Ukraine obtains on a daily basis from combat operations.
Minister Poltorak gave an overview of the security situation in Donbass and the Crimea, which remains tense, and where the Putin regime is consistently trying to escalate tensions. According to Poltorak, occupied Crimea has become a militarised zone with more than 60,000 Russian soldiers. According to Poltorak, Russia is responsible for provocations in the Crimea region as well as Donetsk Oblast, they wear Ukrainian uniforms and fire upon separatist controlled settlements with heavy weapons, in order to accuse the Ukraine of war crimes.
Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso observed Ukraine's military parade through Maidan, the main square in Kiev, and placed flowers at the Heaven's Hundred, a memorial to those who were killed during the protests at Maidan.
Military cooperation between Estonia and Ukraine has grown over the last few years, with Estonia providing steadfast support to Ukraine. Estonian special operations forces, in cooperation with U.S. special operations forces, are providing training to Ukrainian special operations forces, who are participating in combat operations in Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts. The Seli Health Centre has offered rehabilitation treatment to combatants injured during combat activities. There are currently five Ukrainians undergoing medical rehabilitation at Seli.
Estonia has trained Ukrainian special operations forces medics, and volunteers are keeping up the campaign for acquiring medical supplies and organising the training. Estonian army engineers have participated in training exercises held in Ukraine, and Estonia has purchased from Ukraine bridge layers for engineer battalions.