The Estonian Defence Forces has revealed plans to support the French-led military mission Operation Barkhane in the Republic of Mali.

Estonia plans to contribute an infantry unit comprising of up to 50 members, in addition to armoured personnel carriers and support elements.

Base security and close area patrol force protection would be the platoon’s responsibility under the deployment.

The platoon was formed on the basis of the Scouts Battalion. It would be a part of the French unit, based in the Gao field base in Mali.

“The country’s contribution to Operation Barkhane will strengthen relations between the two countries and help bolster Estonia’s position regarding security questions within Nato and the EU.”

Estonian Defence Minister Jüri Luik said: “Estonia has been an active contributor to international military operations since the restoration of its independence, and by doing so has ensured our own security.

“Doing so has helped Estonia to become a solidary and reliable ally, whose positions are taken into account.”

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By GlobalData

According to Luik, the country’s contribution to Operation Barkhane will strengthen relations between the two countries and help bolster Estonia’s position regarding security questions within Nato and the European Union.

Luik added: “The events taking place in Africa affect us all, hence, we cannot leave threats originating from the south to be handled by countries that are located closer to Africa.

“In the same way, France considers the security of our region to be a shared concern, and is set to once again join the allied unit stationed at Tapa next year.”

Operation Barkhane is a French-led mission conducted in the Sahel region of Africa to manage the issues arising from the region, particularly those directed at Europe such as terrorism and illegal immigration.

In addition to Estonia, the UK expressed interest in the Mali mission.