UPDATED: US Senators on Baltic reassurance visit

A day before they are due to visit Latvia, a group of United States senators were in Estonia offering reassurance that the Baltic region remains high on the US' foreign policy agenda.

According to Prime Minister Jüri Ratas, who hosted Senator and Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain, Senators Lindsey Graham and Amy Klobuchar, it was confirmed during the meeting that Estonia and the United States share common values and our understanding of challenges in the fields of foreign policy and security policy are similar as well.

“In the last 25 years, the U.S. has made an invaluable contribution into the security and the development of the defense capacity of Estonia and other Baltic states. We are extremely grateful for this,” Prime Minister Ratas told the Senators.

“The U.S. contribution and commitment to NATO and the European security in general deserves separate acknowledgement. I promise that Estonia will continue to allocate at least 2% of its GDP to defense costs, Host Nation Support comes on top of that.”

Prime Minister Ratas also noted that after having sent our troops to serve alongside American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, Estonia is continuously prepared to contribute to foreign missions and provide help in the fight against terrorism by sending out its units. “We will help you carry this burden,” Ratas added.

According to Estonian public media channel ERR, in his comments McCain said the US would continue to live up to its NATO commitment to collective defense just as Estonia and other member states had done in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks. 

You can read a full account of the Tallinn visit and watch the press conference via our friends at ERR in Estonia HERE.

McCain and his colleagues arrive in Riga December 28 for talks with President Raimonds Vejonis and other officials, though that will not include Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis who is on holiday. However, they will meet Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis and outgoing defense chief General Raimonds Graube, and tour recently-opened NATO facilities.

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