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Pevkur and US Secretary of Defence Austin discussed greater US presence in Estonia

9. September 2022 - 8:51

Yesterday at the Ukraine Defence Consultative Group at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany, Minister of Defence Hanno Pevkur and US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin met bilaterally to discuss increasing the US presence in Estonia through regular rotations and exercises.

“Secretary of Defence Austin reaffirmed that according to what was agreed in Madrid, the US will increase their presence in the near term future through regular rotations and exercises in Estonia and the other Baltic States. This is a strong signal of the continuing US presence in the region and it helps our common deterrence objectives along the eastern flank of NATO,” said minister Pevkur.

At the fifth Ramstein format high-level meeting, defence ministers from over 40 countries discussed further aid to Ukraine, with supporting the Ukrainian armed forces through training proving to be increasingly important.

According to Pevkur, Estonia will continue to support Ukraine with weapons, however, the share of training is set to increase in the future. “The resounding message from today’s meeting is that training is becoming as important as weapons and equipment, since it supports the expansion and sustainability of the Ukrainian armed forces. This will be increasingly important in the coming months, since Ukraine has the real opportunity to seize the initiative on the battlefield,” said Pevkur.

The discussion at the meeting also included possibilities for increasing defence industry production volumes in Western countries, which is needed for both supporting Ukraine as well as replenishing stocks. “I called on all countries to follow Estonia’s example and, first and foremost, increase defence expenditure. Large orders are the fastest and most effective way to increase production volumes,” noted minister Pevkur.

Since the beginning of the conflict, Estonia has supported Ukraine with military aid in the value of 250 million euros, which represents 1/3 of the Estonian defence budget. The last aid package that the Government of the Republic approved in August includes weapons, as well as training and the delivery of a second field hospital to Ukraine in cooperation with Germany. The second field hospital will reach Ukraine soon, and the project received support from the NGO Slava Ukraini in the sum of 120 000 euros.

The Ukraine Defence Consultative Group, also known as the Ramstein format, was called together by the US. The first meeting took place in Ramstein on 26 April, 2022. Two meetings have been held on location and two in virtual format, with this representing the fifth in line.

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Photo: Kaitseminister Pevkur kohtus USA kaitseminister Lloyd Aust… | Flickr