The British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, and his Estonian counterpart, Kaja Kallas, participated in a defence summit in Riga, Latvia, followed by a flight to Estonia, where they served a Christmas dinner to the British, French and Danish troops stationed in the Estonian town of Tapa.
The British prime minister flew to Estonia from the Latvian capital Riga, where on 19 December he chaired the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force summit. The defence partnership, established in the wake of the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, is a pool of high readiness, adaptable forces that is designed to enhance the UK’s ability to respond rapidly, anywhere in the world, with like-minded allies, or on behalf of international organisations such as the UN or NATO. Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway are the UK’s allies in this partnership.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, also participated in the Riga summit via video conferencing. The allied leaders welcomed his efforts to achieve a just peace and asserted that the peace talks cannot be taken seriously as long as Russia continues its war of aggression.
“Estonia and the United Kingdom have been among the most active supporters of Ukraine and there’s no question here of whether this should continue – until Ukraine hasn’t liberated its territory, we’ve not done enough. Ukraine has proven itself on the battlefield and our full support will help Ukraine win the war faster and establish peace,” the Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, said in a statement.
“We’re in a long-term confrontation – Russia’s imperialist goals to conquer Ukraine, to re-establish the era of influence spheres in Europe and to weaken NATO have not changed,” she added.
Kallas and Rishi Sunak later flew to Tallinn, sharing the British prime minister’s governmental jet. Sunak underlined the UK’s commitment to Estonia’s security, according to the statement issued by the UK government. Kallas said in a statement that “the leading role of the United Kingdom and its involvement in the military defence of the Baltic Sea are of key importance for Estonia.”
In Tallinn, the prime ministers also signed a new tech partnership agreement between the UK and Estonia, which foresees closer digital and technology cooperation between the two countries in the fields of healthcare, education and digital governance.
Sunak and Kallas visited the Tapa military base in Estonia that hosts hundreds of British as well as number of French and Danish troops as part of the NATO deployment. The British prime minister thanked those troops personally, and, alongside with his Estonian counterpart, served a Christmas dinner to the NATO forces.
Sunak said in Tapa that from January, the UK will deploy an aviation task force of three Chinook, four Apache and two Wildcat helicopters to Estonia.
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