At today's meeting with the delegation of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, the Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the Riigikogu (Parliament of Estonia) Marko Mihkelson expressed gratitude for the long-time support of the USA in guaranteeing the security of Estonia, and emphasised that the increasing of the US military presence would be welcome.
At the bilateral meeting, the security situation of the Baltic region was spoken about, and the issues of defence cooperation were discussed in more detail. Both Mihkelson and Member of the National Defence Committee Ants Laaneots said that increasing the military presence of the USA and also other allies would be necessary for enhancing the deterrence capability of NATO.
“The deployment of larger US military contingent into the Baltic States would considerably increase collective deterrence level and balance the strategic picture in the Baltic Sea Region,” Mihkelson said. “We are interested in the deployment of an at least battalion-size infantry unit of the USA into Estonia, and also units of the same size into other Baltic States.”
Mihkelson said that the purpose of the bilateral defence cooperation is establishing a training centre at Ämari Air Base and creating a pre-positioned equipment base.
Members of the US Senate Deb Fischer, John Cornyn, Jeff Sessions and John Barrasso and Member of the Congress Mike Conaway, who took part in the meeting, expressed thanks for and acknowledged Estonia’s contribution to strengthening the collective defence, which also includes keeping the rate of defence expenses at not less than two percent of GDP and Estonia’s participation in the foreign missions.
The impact of sanctions imposed on Russia was also discussed at the meeting. Mihkelson emphasised that the countries of the West should support Ukraine’s activities in defending its independence and guaranteeing its territorial integrity in every way. “Russia must understand that the sancions will last until the aggression against Ukraine ends,” Mihkelson said.
Deputy Chairman of the National Defence Committee Mart Helme and members of the Committee Johannes Kert, Marianne Mikko and Madis Milling, Chairman of the Estonia-USA Parliamentary Group Kadri Simson and Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy Chever Voltmer also participated in the meeting.
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