Estonia delivers anti-tank missiles to Ukraine

Missiles of anti-tank weapon system Javelin, donated by Estonian Defence Forces, arrived in Ukraine on 18 February, bolstering the country’s defensive military capabilities.  

The governments of the three Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – made a decision to donate the missiles in January, in the light of Russia’s military pressure in and around Ukraine.

Estonia provided Javelin anti-armour missiles, while Latvia and Lithuania provided Stinger anti-aircraft missiles and adjacent equipment to bolster Ukraine’s defensive military capabilities.  

“This is a small step by Estonia in support of Ukraine, but it is a real and tangible contribution to defence against Russian aggression,” Martin Herem, the commander of Estonian Defence Forces, said in a statement.  

“At the moment, these missiles are more useful for Estonia’s security in defence of Ukraine rather than at a live fire exercise on an Estonian training area,” he added.

The Javelin anti-tank missiles, donated by Estonia, arrived in Ukraine on 18 February 2022. Photo by Estonian Defence Forces.

The Ukrainian deputy defence minister, Volodymyr Havrylov, said in a press release that the “donated equipment will be immediately handed over to the country’s troops on the field”.

“Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania stand united in our commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in face of continued Russian aggression. The Baltic states will continue supporting Ukraine not only in diplomatic and political ways, but also in strengthening Ukraine’s ability to defend itself,” the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian defence ministers – Kalle Laanet, Artis Pabriks and Arvydas Anušauskas, respectively, said in January.

The Javelin anti-tank missiles, donated by Estonia, arrived in Ukraine on 18 February 2022. Photo by Estonian Defence Forces.

Estonia has also allocated money for Ukraine’s assistance.

Shoot-and-forget method

The donated Javelin missiles were originally bought by Estonia from the United States. Under the terms of the contract, a US consent for transferring the weapons system to Ukraine was also required, which was received.  

Javelin shoulder-operated portable medium-range anti-tank missile system operates on a so-called shoot-and-forget method, which means that after launching the missile automatically guides itself to the target and allows the shooter to take cover.  

The missiles are capable of hitting the target directly and from above. Its effective range is around two kilometres (1.2 miles).

A US soldier firing a Javelin at a military exercise in Slovenia. Photo by Paolo Bovo, public domain.

Javelin missile system has been used by the United States and many other countries since the mid-1990s and has been used successfully in Iraq in 2003 against armoured vehicles and later in the fight against Afghan insurgents. The missiles are in the armament of Estonian Defence Forces since 2015.

Russia has reportedly mobilised over 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border and the Russian president Vladimir Putin has tasked his diplomats with securing US and NATO agreement to his demands for a new security order in the Eastern and Central Europe.

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