Tallinn [Estonia], March 1 (ANI): NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, the Prime Minister of Estonia, Kaja Kallas and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Tapa Military Base in Estonia to meet the soldiers that are defending Estonia and the alliance.
"These soldiers are keeping our nations safe and free. And we owe them a debt of gratitude. Thank you to Estonia for hosting our battlegroup so well. And being such a staunch NATO ally," said NATO chief.
Talking of the NATO deterrence, he emphasized, "Allies are imposing severe costs on Russia through sanctions. We are increasing NATO presence across the Alliance, to deter and defend. And we are stepping up our support to help Ukraine defend itself."
He thanked Boris Johnson for doubling UK's contribution over the last few weeks, with more British troops sent to Estonia.
"NATO Allies are sending Ukraine anti-tank weapons, air-defence missiles, and ammunition. Allies are also providing millions of euros worth of financial help and humanitarian aid. I commend Estonia and the United Kingdom for the assistance you are providing to Ukraine," he added.
Stoltenberg condemned Russia saying, "The people of Ukraine are fighting bravely against a brutal and unprovoked Russian invasion. We utterly condemn the Kremlin's war."
Talking of the increased NATO defensive presence he said, "In the air, on land, and at sea. With over 100 jets at high alert operating from 30 different locations. And over 120 ships from the Baltic Sea to the Mediterranean."
Reiterating NATO's commitment to Article 5 Stoltenberg said, "The UK, the US, and other Allies are deploying thousands more troops to the eastern part of the Alliance. For the first time in our history, we are deploying the NATO Response Force. Because there must be no doubt, no room for miscalculation or misunderstanding. Our commitment to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty is iron-clad. We will protect and defend every inch of NATO territory. Credible deterrence prevents conflict and preserves peace."
He stressed that NATO is a defensive force saying, "NATO is a defensive Alliance. We do not seek conflict with Russia. Our message to President Putin is: stop the war, pull out all your forces from Ukraine, and engage in good faith in diplomatic efforts. The world stands with Ukraine in calling for peace."
Prime Minister of Estonia Kaja Kallas talked of Ukraine's will to fight against Russia and said, "I think we underestimate the Ukrainians' motivation and will to protect their cities. Of course, we also know that the forces are not really equal. So one is to really conquer the cities and the other one is to keep those cities under control. So I think there is going to be a lot of resistance from Ukrainians."
"I think what we have seen is that all Ukrainians have really surprised everybody by their motivation to fight for their country, to fight for freedom," she added.
Echoing the same sentiments, UK PM Boris Johnson said, "With every day that goes by, as they watch the heroism of the Ukrainian resistance and they see what is happening in Ukraine, and they see episodes like the shedding, like the missile in Kharkiv and the destruction of civilian populations. I think peoples' stomachs are being turned by what is happening and they are seeing that it is necessary to stand up against Russian aggression to support the Ukrainians and to endorse our strategy, which is that President Putin must not be allowed to succeed, he must fail in Ukraine." (ANI)