Tag: Estonia

NATO fighter-jets enjoy 1st quiet week in 6 months

Belgian Air Component F-16AM Fighting Falcons

NATO fighter-jets guarding the Baltic skies enjoyed the first quiet week in nearly six months, with no scrambles last week, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said.

According to the press release, NATO jets did not have to intercept any Russian warplanes in the international airspace above the Baltic Sea on Oct. 9-15.

The last calm week was reported in early May. The past summer was rather intense for the NATO air-policing mission, with weeks involving a dozen or a few dozen scrambles.

The NATO air-policing mission in the Baltic states is conducted from Lithuania and Estonia.


More than 3,500 troops to take part in Silver Arrow 2017 international military drill

Canadian troops compare equipment with Latvian, UK and Danish NATO Allies during Exercise SILVERARROW in Latvia 2016

RIGA, Oct 13 (LETA)

More than 3,500 troops will participate in Silver Arrow 2017 international military drill held in Latvia – Adazi, Ape, Gulbene and Aluksne regions – on October 16- 29, the Latvian Defense Ministry reported.

Countries participating in the drill include Albania, the US, Estonia, Italy, Canada, Latvia, the UK, Poland, Slovenia, Spain and Germany. Also about 200 home guards and 30 reserve troops will participate in the exercise.

The goal of the drill is to improve cooperation of the National Armed Forces with the allies, train the ability of units to plan and conduct defense operations, the ministry said.

Alongside, National Armed Forces mobilization drills and reserve troops exercise will be held.

The ministry reminded that initially Silver Arrow was a national military exercise, but since 2014 it has growing into an international exercise with cooperation of allies and partners.


Zapad 2017: what you need to know about Belarus and Russia’s military exercises

Zapad 2017: what you need to know about Belarus and Russia’s military exercises

Russia and Belarus kick off Zapah 2017: what you need to know

Russia and Belarus’ Zapad military exercises have provoked concern among Nato members and allies in eastern Europe.

“We are going to be watching very closely the course of these exercises,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said during a visit to Poland last month.

Here’s what you need to know

The numbers

Scheduled to last between September 14 and 20 in Belarus and eastern Russia the drills officially include 12,700 troops, with a little under half coming from Russia and the rest being Belarussian military. However, European sources have suggested up to 100 000 personnel could be involved, a figure denied by Moscow.

According to figures announced by Russia’s Defence Ministry, the drills will involve around 70 airplanes and helicopters, 10 combat ships, along with 680 units of combat equipment, including 250 tanks and 200 machine guns, multiple launch rocket systems and other heavy weaponry.

The scenario

The Russian Defence Ministry has always insisted that the purpose of the drills is purely defensive

The drills will take place on the territory of three ranges in Leningrad, Pskov and Kaliningrad in Russian and six ranges in Belarus. The name “Zapad” (which translates as “west”) is said to refer to the western part of Russia and Belarus and not the states of the European Union, Russian Deputy Defence Minister Alexander Fomin said in an interview with Deutsche Welle. He also called on western media not to politicise the exercise and not to misinterpret its objectives.

“Some people come to a conclusion, the exercise “Zapad 2017” aims to “set the stage for invasion” and “occupation” of Lithuania, Poland and the Ukraine. None of this surprising theories has anything to do with the reality,” — Fomin announced.

According to the premise of the drills, Belarus gets attacked by three imaginary enemy states: Veyshnoria, Vesbaria and Lubenia. Lubenia is situated on the territory of western Belarus, while Veisbaria and Lubenia — are in territory belonging to Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The aim of the drills is to test the ability of joint forces of Russia and Belarus to hold off the enemy’s attack and practice cooperation between the military administration of the two countries.

Nato concerns

The governments of states sharing borders with Russia have expressed fears that the drills will be used for military provocation.

The main concern is that Russian may use the exercise to relocate a large number of military personnel to Belarus. The head of staff of the Ukrainian Army, Victor Muzhenko, has suggested that Russia could then launch an assault on its neighbours on the grounds of “massive provocations” concerning “the abuse of rights and threats to the safety of Russian-speaking minority”.

Baltic states have similar concerns, even though the idea of an invasion is further off.

Latvia sent a task force to Belarus to observe the drills, justifying the move by citing the risk of incursions into its airspace: The minister for foreign affairs Edgars Rinkevics has indicated it is possible foreign military aircraft could overfly neighbouring territory. At the same time, he played down the prospect of military invasion — especially due to an enhanced Nato presence in the region.

Meanwhile, Latvia is also undertaking some additional security measures. Authorities have even called on fans of strike ball — a military game, where participants dress in camouflage and carry fake weapons — to give up on their hobby for a while, to avoid causing panic among populations in border regions.

The Lithuanian authorities share the position of Latvia. “We are prepared better, than during the “Zapad 2009” and “Zapad 2013” exercises, the president of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite declared on September, 14 in an interview for LRT radio station. “More defensive units and measures are now located on our territory”.

By Maria Epifanova


Estonian president discusses migration, digital issues with Italian colleague

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Monday

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid on Monday met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella who hosted a lunch in honor of the Estonian head of state in Rome, during which the presidents discussed the migration crisis, opportunities of the digital society and the future of the European Union.

“The fact that hundreds of thousands of migrants from Africa arrive in Italy every year — and for many years in a row — is not Italy’s problem. It is a problem of the whole of Europe and so all of us hold the key to solving the problem. As Italian fighters will protect our airspace in Amari next year, we must also understand joint concerns that are to the south of us. An not only understand them, but also contribute to solving them,” the president said after the meeting.

The heads of state at the meeting focused on discussing the opportunities of the digital society and questions concerning cyber security. Kaljulaid said that many modern dangers do not depend on geography.

“Those risks are similar in Rome and Tallinn and this is why cooperation between countries is important, a good example of which is the participation of Italy in the work of our NATO Cooperative Cyber Defense Center of Excellence (CCDCOE) in Tallinn since its launch,” the president said.

Speaking about the future of the European Union, Kaljulaid first and foremost considered it important that the member states remain united in important questions. “This is our — Estonia’s, and in reality the whole of EU’s — strategic interest. Europe is faced with a number of challenges, but no member state can solve a big problem alone better than together,” Kaljulaid said.

The president on Monday evening will open an exhibition at the Italian National Gallery of Modern Art that will feature the works of Estonian painter Konrad Magi. Kaljulaid on Tuesday will visit three schools in Rome and gift them with reproductions of Magi’s painting “Landscape of Italy. Rome.”


NATO fighter-jets scrambled once from Lithuania last week over 2 Russian warplanes

An F-15C of the 493d Fighter Squadron (493 FS), nicknamed “The Grim Reapers”, scrambles to intercept at RAF Lakenheath. The Squadron is presently on Baltic Air Policing duties in Siauliai, Lithuania and represents a key element in NATO’S Enhanced Forward Presence in the region.

VILNIUS, Oct 9 (LETA–BNS) – NATO fighter aircraft conducting the NATO air-policing mission in the Baltic states were scrambled once from Lithuania last week to intercept military aircraft of the Russian Federation in the international airspace over the Baltic Sea.

On Oct. 2, NATO fighter-jets were scrambled to intercept an IL-20 and an IL-76 flying from mainland Russia to the Kaliningrad region, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said.

Ilyushin Il-20 surveillance aircraft “coot”

The aircraft had pre-filed flight plans, had their onboard transponders on and maintained radio communication with the regional flight control center.

The NATO air-policing mission is conducted from Lithuania and Estonia.


Estonia: Company of British battalion to carry out exercise in Saaremaa

TALLINN, Oct 06, BNS – A company of the British battalion is to carry out a two-day exercise on Saaremaa Island and is to also meet with local residents.

The Estonian Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer corps said that the 130-strong British company is to arrive in Saaremaa on Sunday and will practice on foot patrols on Tagamoisa Pensinsula on Monday and Tuesday. The British troops on Wednesday play a match of football with FC Kuressaare, visit English language classes in local schools and display their equipment in the courtyard of Kuressaare Castle.

“It is very positive that a number of subdivisions of NATO allies stationed in Estonia plan cooperation training with the subdivisions of the Saaremaa region of the Kaitseliit (Defense League) volunteer corps and with the participation the naval, air force and army units,” Lt. Col. Raul Opik, officer of the civil-military cooperation of the naval subdistrict of the Saaremaa region of the Kaitseliit, said. “The people of Saaremaa will have the opportunity to closely see and experience the equipment of the allies participating in these cooperation trainings.”

“The joint exercise to be held in Saaremaa help us see and ensure that the member states of the alliance take our collective defense need seriously and NATO deterrence is working in close cooperation with our local units,” Opik said.

Strike aircraft from the Maryland National Guard visited Kuressaare in August and in cooperation with local Kaitseliit units participated in a two-day air defense exercise over the Gulf of Riga.

“During the exercise, the strike aircraft were stationed at the Kuressaare air field secured by Kaitseliit’s Saaremaa subdistrict and the training cooperation with the subdivisions of our region was also carried out on sea,” Opik said.


Finnish-Estonian drill Baltic Shield underway off Finland

Finnish Navy Minehunter Katanpää, MHC (Mine Hunter Coastal) Vessel

Mine countermeasure ships from the navies of Finland and Estonia met up on October 2 for four days of bilateral drills as part of exercise Baltic Shield 2017.

The exercise is hosted by the 4th Mine Counter-Measures Squadron of the Coastal Fleet and is completing it’s final day in Finland, in the Archipelago Sea.

The annual exercise is attended by Finnish minehunters MHC Katanpää and MHC Vahterpää – the Finnish Navy’s newest and final minehunter in the class – and the command boat Syöksy. The Estonian navy has sent ENS Wambola, ENS Ugandi and ENS Admiral Cowan.

Commander Mika Raunu, Commander of the 4th Mine Counter-Measures Squadron is the exercise’s commander.

This year’s edition of the exercise is broader in scope compared to previous editions, according to the exercise commander. In addition to artillery firing, mine counter-measures drills and seamanship and navigation exercises, unmanned aerial vehicles and remotely operated mine countermeasures systems are incorporated into the evolutions.


UK-led international exercise Joint Warrior begins

Albion-class amphibious transport dock (L-15) HMS Bulwark

Warships taking part in the UK-hosted multinational drill Joint Warrior got underway on October 1 for a fortnight of exercises off the coast of Scotland.

This is the second time this year the biannual drill is being held.

The first one took place in March and featured or incorporated Information Warrior, an event aimed at demonstrating and developing information warfare.

The fall edition of the drill will focus on inter-operability development and standard evolutions.

Joint Warrior is designed and led by the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff (JTEPS) in the United Kingdom.

35 ships and a number of aircraft from 14 nations are set to take part in the drill.

The Royal Netherlands Navy frigate HNLMS De Ruyter F804, will be taking part in Exercise Joint Warrior

The Exercise will feature:

  • Thirty-five naval units from Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain, the UK and the US, supported by 11 rotary wing aircraft.
  • RAF Lossiemouth and HMS Gannet in Prestwick hosting international aircraft from Canada, France, Norway, the UK and US.
  • Cape Wrath Weapons Range in the North of Scotland being used for joint fires activity.

Exercise Joint Warrior will also incorporate elements of another major exercise, the ballistic missile defence drill Formidable Shield, running from September 21 to October 18.


Estonian naval ships taking part in shooting exercise in Finland

Estonian Navy Minehunter EML Admiral Cowan M313


Vessels of the Estonian Navy are taking part in a shooting exercise, Baltic Shield, in Finland this week where shooting from onboard weapons will be performed and exercises held in minehunting and cooperation between allied forces.
From the Estonian Navy, the minehunters Admiral Cowan and Ugandi and the staff and support vessel Wambola will take part in the exercise.

Finland has sent the MCM vessels Katanpaa and Vahterpaa and the naval vessel Syoksy, military spokespeople in Tallinn said.

Altogether, some 200 active service personnel and conscripts are taking part in the drills.

“Participation in the intensive shooting exercises of Baltic Shield makes a significant contribution to the development of the shooting skills of our crew,” said the commander of Admiral Cowan, 1st Lt. Ardo Riibon.

Riibon described the exercise as providing an immediate platform for developing operational cooperation between the participating countries.

Finnish Navy Minehunter Katanpää, MHC (Mine Hunter Coastal) Vessel

During the exercise, airborne targets towed by flying aircraft and drones flying at an altitude of 20-100 meters will be used. In addition to shooting, minehunting, maneuvering and towing, as well as exchange of postal parcels between vessels will be rehearsed at Baltic Shield.

Minehunters of the Estonian Navy are equipped with 23-millimeter anti-aircraft guns. In addition, the weaponry of Estonian naval ships includes 12.7 millimeter Browning heavy machineguns.

Vessels of the Estonian Navy have been taking part in shooting exercises organized by the Finnish Navy since 2010.


Estonia to open all military posts to women

Estonian Defence Minister Jüri Luik signed a draft bill on 29 September to allow more women to enter conscript service on a voluntary basis and to permit them to serve in all parts of the armed forces, the ministry of defence has announced.

Conscription in Estonia is compulsory only for men. Some women, however, elect for military service, after high school, as conscripts on a voluntary basis.

“The goal is to expand the possibilities for women to be involved in the defence forces and to enable them to complete their military service in the same units and occupations as men,” Luik said.