Tag: Tallinn

Estonia yet to receive an invitation from Russia to observe Zapad

Russian Embassy, Tallinn, Estonia

Estonia has not received an invitation from Russia to observe Zapad, a large-scale joint Russian-Belarusian military exercise to take place in September. Russian authorities, however, will present the exercises to military attaches accredited to other countries’ diplomatic missions in Moscow at a separate event.

“Military attaches accredited to Moscow have been invited to attend an event at Luga Training Camp on Sept. 18-19, in the course of which Russia will present the Zapad joint military exercise,” Ministry of Defence spokesperson Susan Lilleväli told BNS on Wednesday. “The Estonian defense attaches are ready to take part in the event.”

The joint Russian-Belarusian military exercise will be held in the territory of both countries from Sept. 14-20. The exercise has sparked concern in other countries as, in similar exercises in 2009 and 2013, Russia, among other things, allegedly rehearsed an attack on its neighbors.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in mid-July that, “based on previous experiences related to previous exercises, we have every reason to believe that substantially more troops are participating than the official reported numbers.” He encouraged Russia to allow NATO observers to monitor the maneuvers.

Minister of Defence Jüri Luik has expressed the same concern, telling weekly Maaleht in July that Russia should declare the exercise on the basis of the Vienna Document, according to which any exercise involving more than 9,000 participants should be declared. Russia has stated that 13,000 troops will be participating in the September exercise.

Belarus has sent invitations to Estonia and other countries, which Estonia has already chosen to accept, to observe the exercise on its territory. It has not offered any details, however.


NATO jets in Baltics scrambled 8 times last week to escort Russian aircraft

Ejército del Aire F/A-18C. 5 Spanish Air Force F/A-18Cs make up the Baltic Air Policing element in Estonia, based in Ämari as of 1 May 2017.

VILNIUS – NATO fighter jets serving in the Baltic air policing mission were scrambled eight times last week to intercept Russian military aircraft flying in international airspace over the Baltic Sea, the Lithuanian Defense Ministry said on Monday.

The ministry said that a total of 21 Russian planes were intercepted, around half of which were fighter jets, while the NATO jets also identified several transport and passenger planes over the Baltic Sea.
Most of the Russian aircraft had their automatic transponders switched off, the statement said.

The biggest number of scrambles took place last Thursday, when the alliance’s jets took off three times in total and intercepted ten aircraft.

Polish Air Force F-16C Block 52+ Fighters have been based at Based in Siauliai in Lithuania since May 1 2017.

Estonia: NATO ships arrive in Tallinn for weekend

The Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group 1 (SNMCMG1) arrived in Tallinn for a scheduled port visit over the weekend to to replenish the ship’s supplies and prepare for upcoming exercises.

During the visit the vessels are to make preparations for returning to sea and will give members of the crew the chance to rest for a few days, military spokespeople in Tallinn said. After the visit the NATO ships will remain in Estonia to carry out several exercises and be prepared for the upcoming mine clearance operation.

“The presence of NATO naval units and the clearance of World War era mines will make Estonian waterways safer for us all,” Cmdr. Peeter Ivask, commander of the fleet of the Estonian Navy, said.
Head of the SNMCMG1 Lt. Capt. Gvido Laudups on Friday also visited the headquarters of the Estonian defense forces and the NATO command element and met with Meelis Oidsalu, deputy secretary general of the Defense Ministry for defense planning.

As of June 29, SNMCMG1 is headed by Latvian Lt. Capt. Gvido Laudups, who took over the position from Estonian Cmdr. Johan-Elias Seljamaa of the Estonian Navy. The flagship of the group is the Latvian Navy’s support vessel LVNS Virsaitis. The Estonian minehunter Sakala is also part of the international unit this half-year.


US may deploy 7 fighter-jets in Lithuania during Zapad drills – president

Pilots with the 13th and 14th Fighter Squadrons fly alongside a KC-135 Stratotanker (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Deana Heitzman)

VILNIUS, Jul 31, BNS – The United States may station seven fighter-jets in Lithuania for the time of the large-scale Russian-Belarusian war games Zapad 2017 this fall, President Dalia Grybauskaite said in Tallinn on Monday.

“We expect as many as seven jets, almost double in the nearest future,” Grybauskaite told Lithuanian journalists during the meeting of her Baltic counterparts with US Vice-President Mike Pence in the Estonian capital.

US fighter-jets should arrive in Lithuania in late August or early September for the NATO air-policing mission.

The NATO air-policing mission is currently conducted from Lithuania and Estonia by four fighter-jets in each country.

Grybauskaite said the Baltic states were happy with the US guarantees that go beyond words.
In her words, more US troops and equipment will be deployed in Lithuania during Zapad 2017.

Officials in Lithuania are mainly concerned over the actual number of troops involved in the exercise and the scenario or training.

The US already increased the presence of its air-policing jets in Lithuania in early 2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea.


Pence and Estonian PM discuss deploying the Patriot anti-missile defence system

The vice president of the United States, Mike Pence, and the Estonian prime minister, Jüri Ratas, discussed the possibility of deploying the Patriot anti-missile defence system in Estonia.

Ratas, having met Pence, who was visiting the tiny Nordic NATO member from 30-31 July, told the main news programme of the Estonian public broadcasting that he discussed the deployment of the Patriot anti-missile system, but there were no talks about a potential date when the system would be deployed.

“We discussed it today,” Ratas said, replying to a reporter’s question about the defence system. “We didn’t discuss specifically when it would happen,” he added.

“The main messages from both sides were that both Estonia and the United States are active allies in NATO,” Ratas told the public broadcasting.

“We also discussed the [Russian] military exercise to take place at the Estonian border – Zapad – and how Estonia, the United States and NATO monitor it and exchange information,” Ratas added.

Increased cooperation in cyber security

The two leaders also discussed opportunities for increased cooperation in the digital field and cyber security. Pence praised Estonia as a model for innovation and the use of technology to develop solutions for global economic, security and social challenges, and he thanked the country for hosting the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence in Tallinn.

After meeting with the presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in Tallinn on 31 July, the US vice president again offered reassurances.

“Under President Donald Trump, the United States stands firmly behind our Article 5 pledge of mutual defence – an attack on one of us is an attack on us all,” Pence told reporters.

In Tallinn, he also met allied troops from France, the UK and the US that are stationed in Estonia.


Vice president: U.S. stands with, will always stand with Baltic states

The President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid (L), with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.

TALLINN- The United States stands now and will always stand with the Baltic countries and their peoples, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said in Tallinn on Monday.

“It is my great privilege to be here today to bring you a very simple message from the President of the United States of America Donald Trump,” Pence said at a joint press conference with the heads of state of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

“The president sent me here to say: we are with you. We stand with the people and nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. And we always will,” the vice president said.

“Under president Donald Trump, America rejects any attempt to use force, threats, intimidation or malign influence on the Baltics states or against any of our treaty allies,” Pence said.

Speaking about NATO in a broader context, the vice president said that the biggest danger is Russian aggression and a strong and united NATO is more necessary today than at any point since the collapse of communism a quarter of a century ago.

“And no threat looms larger today than the specter of aggression from your unpredictable neighbor to the east,” Pence said.

“At this very moment Russia continues to seek to redraw international borders by force, undermine democracies of sovereign nations and divide the free nations of Europe, one against the other,” the vice president added.

Pence emphasized that Russia’s decision by September 1 to send 755 employees of U.S. diplomatic missions out of the country “will not deter the commitment of the United States of America to our security, the security of our allies and the security of freedom loving nations throughout the world.”

“Under President Donald Trump the U.S. stands firmly behind our Article 5 pledge of mutual defense — that an attack on one of us is an attack on all,” the vice president said.

“Today the bond between the Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania — is strong. And under President Donald Trump and with the leadership of these presidents gathered here I know our bond will only grow stronger as time goes on,” Pence said.


Mike Pence in Estonia, to support NATO, Ukraine

US Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence wave as they disembark their plane after arriving at the airport in Tallinn, Estonia, on July 30, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / RAIGO PAJULA

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence is today on his way to Estonia to begin a visit to three countries that have expressed concerns about Russia’s intentions in their regions.

Pence arrived in Tallinn on July 30, and will make subsequent stops in Georgia and Montenegro.

Estonia and Montenegro are members of NATO, while Georgia has expressed hopes of joining the Western alliance.
Along with underscoring the U.S. commitment to the three nations’ security, Pence also will likely express support for U.S. trade and investment with the countries, U.S. administration officials said.

The officials added that Pence also will also discuss the situation in Ukraine.

While in Estonia, Pence will meet with Prime Minister Juri Ratas as well as with leaders of Latvia and Lithuania.
In Georgia starting on July 31, officials said Pence will highlight U.S. support for the Caucasus nation’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Georgia has seen Russian encroachment on its territory. In 2008, Russia’s army invaded Georgia and seized control of two of Georgia’s breakaway regions, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili said on July 27 that Pence’s visit will demonstrate that the United States continues to support Georgia in building a stronger military force.

Margvelashvili said the Georgian army will start two weeks of exercises with the United States and other partner countries on July 30, the day before Pence’s visit to Tbilisi. Pence is scheduled to meet with U.S. troops.

“The vice president’s presence here is definitely showing that this is not only about military exercises, but it is also showing unification with our values, with our foreign policy targets, and showing a clear message that we are together,” Margvelashvili said.
On the last stop, Pence will welcome NATO’s newest member with his stop in Montenegro, which only joined the alliance in June.
On August 2, he will attend the Adriatic Charter Summit in Podgorica. U.S. officials said.

Pence will highlight the U.S. commitment to the Western Balkans and stress the need for good governance, political reforms, and rule of law in the region.

The leaders of Albania, Bosnia -Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia are also scheduled to attend the summit.

Source: New Europe.

Estonian Defence Minister to introduce EU presidency defense priorities in Brussels

TALLINN – Estonian Minister of Defense Juri Luik is set to introduce the priorities of the Estonian EU presidency in the field of defense to representatives of the European Commission next week.

The minister on Tuesday is scheduled to go on a visit to Brussels, where he will meet with European Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and the EU Internal Market Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska.

At the meeting Luik is set to present the priorities of the Estonian EU presidency in the field of defense and discuss important issues arising in the field of defense during the presidency with the representatives of the European Commission, spokespeople at the Ministry of Defense said.

The same issues are also set to be discussed at the minister’s meeting with the head of the European Union Military Committee (EUMC) and head of the European Defense Agency.

Source: The Baltic Times.

Baltic special units practice detaining armed criminals

The Baltic Times, 18 June 2017

TALLINN – Members of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian fast-response units and special forces practiced detaining armed criminals on Thursday in northern and central Estonia, the regional daily Jarva Teataja said.
Fast-response units and special forces — K-komando from Estonia, Omega from Latvia and Aras from Lithuania — participated in the exercise, spokesperson for the Estonian Police and Border Guard Board Barbara Lichtfeldt said.

“In Paide, the fast-response units had to manage aggressive protesters who unlawfully occupied a territory, and the task of fast-response units was to put an end to the situation and free the territory,” Lichtfeldt said.
Head of the North prefecture’s operative center Marek Unt said that the exercise was a success as the goal was met.

Latvian OMEGA operator armed with modified german H&K MP5A3.

Belarus, Estonia discuss military cooperation development prospects

BELARUS NEWS, 9 June 2017

MINSK, 9 June (BelTA) – Belarus and Estonia have discussed the prospects of developing military cooperation, BelTA learned from the Defense Ministry of Belarus.

“On 9 June, Major General Oleg Voinov, the head of the International Military Cooperation Department – aide to the defense minister of Belarus for international military cooperation, met with the representatives of the Estonian delegation. The sides shared opinions about topical issues of regional security and the prospects of developing military cooperation,” the representatives of the Defense Ministry said.

The Estonian parliamentary delegation led by Chairman of the National Defense Committee of the Estonian parliament Hannes Hanso arrived in Minsk on 8 June. As part of the visit the delegation of Estonia will visit the Military Academy of Belarus.

Lithuanian president: Russia is a major problem for the Baltic states

The Baltic Times, 2 June 2017

TALLINN – Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said that Russia is a major problem for the Baltic states.
“The biggest problem is Russia, which conducts military exercises close to our borders with more and more aggressive content. This forces us all to strengthen our military force,” she said in a Thursday interview with the Estonian newspaper Postimees in connection with her forthcoming visit to Estonia.

In her words, that NATO will conduct internal reforms that will lead to a significant reshaping of the planning system.

In addition, Grybauskaite said that the Lithuanian liquefied natural gas terminal placed on a ship in Klaipeda will help all three Baltic states to reduce dependence on Russian gas.

“After this ship was launched, the gas price dropped for all of us. With the disappearance of the monopoly of Russian Gazprom we have increased not only economic independence, but also freed hands for political decisions,” she said.
The president also called for ratification of the agreement on the construction of high-speed railway Rail Baltica, connecting the Baltic countries in Central Europe, even though there is still no agreement on it among states of the region.

“If the agreement is not ratified, other allies and the European Commission will say: if you are not able to negotiate and maintain your own project, why should we allocate money,” said Grybauskaite.

“In my opinion, the decision to build Rail Baltica has already been made. It is important to develop the transport corridor between the north and the south. The three Baltic states must demonstrate that they are able to cooperate,” the Lithuanian president said.

Grybauskaite will visit Estonia on June 5-6. The Estonian president’s Chancellery reported that Grybauskaite intends to discuss issues of regional cooperation, the upcoming Estonian presidency in the EU Council, the future of the European Union, Eastern Partnership, Brexit, and migration. The parties also plan to discuss NATO issues, security policy, energy, and transport.