Riigikogu, the Parliament of Estonia, approved mandates submitted by the Ministry of Defence, which will allow Estonia to contribute up to 160 troops to international military operations and 234 service members to readiness units next year. Estonia is increasing its participation in the France-led anti-terrorism operation Barkhane, in Mali.
‘The French-led operation is engaged directly in the fight against armed terrorism in Mali. Mali is definitely dangerous, but it should not be forgotten that this is one of the reasons we are in the region and the end goal of the operation is to stabilize the situation in the region to a level which allows the national authorities of countries in the region to independently ensure security,’ Defence Minister Luik said. ‘The operation enables us to work with our closest Allies, such as France,’ Luik stressed. France is committed to contribute to NATO enhanced Forward Presence in Estonia in 2021.
In addition to France, the UN and the EU Mission are also operating in Mali and the Sahel region, with number of European countries participating within the framework thereof. ‘If we look at all of those international organizations and countries active in Mali and the region, we can say that the international community understands well that the potential terrorism and migration threat must be dealt seriously on-site,' Luik added.
Estonia will also be deploying special operations forces to Mali, in total 95 Estonian troops participating in Operation Barkhane, with Estonia also contributing staff officers to the UN peacekeeping mission and the EU Training Mission there.
In U.S.-led anti-Daesh coalition Operation Inherent Resolve, in Iraq, the Riigikogu increased the mandate from 10 to 20 service members which allows Estonia, in the event of a change to the security situation in Iraq and the surrounding area, to react flexibly and, if necessary, be ready to increase its contribution in support of the coalition and the United States.
In addition, Estonia will participate with a total of up to 210 service members in the NATO Response Force (NRF) with the armoured infantry company (within Baltic Battalion), special operations forces, staff officers and a MCM vessel crew, and up to 24 service members within the composition of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF). As the above are readiness units, the troops will be stationed in Estonia during the period of readiness.
Estonia is contributing to UN (UNIFIL Lebanon, UNTSO in the Middle East, MINUSMA in Mali), NATO (Resolute Support in Afghanistan, NMI in Iraq), and EU (EUTM in Mali, EUNAVFOR in the Mediterranean) operations, as well as the US-led military operation Inherent Resolve, in Iraq, and the France-led anti-terrorism operation Barkhane, in Mali.
Similar to previous years, the Ministry of Defence applied for a mandate for the possible first time and rapid response contribution of up to 50 troops to international military operations led by NATO or its Member Countries, the EU or the UN.