Estonia leaves UNIFIL because Finland does

Estonia has to discontinue its deployment in UNIFIL because Finland has chosen to leave the joint Irish/Finnish battalion. UNIFIL is the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon.

This leads Tony Lawrence from ICDS to comment:

The end of the Irish/ Finnish/Estonian partnership illustrates one of the arguments deployed against greater cooperation among Europe’s armed forces – that in delivering defence capability it is risky to be bound to the policies of another nation. The counter argument – that while there are risks, capability simply could not be delivered without cooperation – seems to be the stronger one here. Estonia would not have been able to deploy a platoon to a UN mission other than within a Finnish framework company, and Finland would not have been able to gain the battalion-level command experience it requires for training and force development other than within the Finnish/Irish battalion. Peacekeeping is, of course, not national defence. But similar cases where nations face the choice of relying on others or not having a capability at all may be found at the harder end of the defence spectrum too – for example the Netherlands is only able to sustain the tank battalion it considers necessary for defence by closely integrating its armoured capability with that of Germany.

The argument is good. Cooperation about international operations is an important enabler, and the experience gained from such missions is essential. And Estonia needs to be out there and show that they are also a provider of security and not only a consumer.

But there is a certain irony to the fact that other countries use the same arguments to explain what they get out of sending their soldiers to Estonia.




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