France has authorised the deployment of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles to Estonia, a move that could strengthen ties between the countries.
French Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed the deployment of five Leclerc tanks, 13 infantry fighting vehicles, and 300 soldiers to Estonia in 2017.
Estonian Minister of Defence Hannes Hanso said: “Estonian and French soldiers are connected by a brotherhood in arms from African operations.
“We understand clearly that a contribution must be made to the defence of Europe, increasing Nato’s military presence in the Baltic Sea region and especially in Nato border countries.”
Hanso also said that Estonia and France are forming a partnership to overcome cyber-related challenges.
An exclusive cyber-defence cooperation agreement was signed between the countries in May.
The French heavy armoured unit will begin serving as part of the UK-led Nato battalion combat group stationed in Tapa.
According to Hanso, the deployment of the combat group to Estonia is currently on schedule.
Both Estonia and the UK are fulfilling the defence expenditure level agreed upon within Nato, according to a statement posted on Estonian Ministry of Defence.
In May, the UK Royal Air Force (RAF)'s Typhoon detachment was deployed to Amari air base in Estonia to participate in Baltic air policing mission.
Image: French Minister of Defence Jean-Yves Le Drian confirmed the deployment of tanks and infantry fighting vehicles to Estonia. Photo: courtesy of Estonian Ministry of Defence.