An official website of the United States Government 
Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

.gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III's Remarks Welcoming Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur to the Pentagon

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE LLOYD J. AUSTIN III:  Well, Minister Pevkur, good afternoon. It's a pleasure to host you here at the Pentagon. I thought this was your first time here, but as you explained to me, this is -- you've been here a number of times -- your first time as the Minister of Defense (inaudible). We're delighted to have you.

Our meeting today couldn't have come at a more timely moment for security in Europe. We're now eight months into Russia's unprovoked war of choice against Ukraine and we've seen renewed and cruel Russian attacks on civilian targets.

Nations of goodwill everywhere have spoken out against Putin's atrocities, his irresponsible rhetoric, his sham attempts to annex parts of sovereign Ukraine territory. You know, we just saw each other last week in the NATO headquarters in Brussels, and at that meeting, you and I saw firsthand the deep commitment and resolve of our allies and partners who are standing up for Ukraine's right to defend itself.

We are deeply grateful to Estonia, Mr. Minister, and our other NATO allies for their contributions to Ukraine's fight to defend itself. We can all see the differences that these efforts are making on the ground and the progress that the Ukrainians have made in their counter-offensive.

So thanks to you, Mr. Minister, for the military equipment and the training assistance that Estonia is providing to Ukraine. And let me repeat what I said at NATO headquarters, that the United States is committed to defending every inch of NATO territory under Article 5.

Now, we couldn't ask for a better ally or a partner and friend than Estonia. Thank you for your robust defense spending and your investments in capabilities. And let me also thank you personally for your gracious host nation support for our allied forces. And I understand that you have plans to increase your ability to host allied forces. So let me thank you for those steps as well.

I'm grateful for our friendship, Mr. Minister. Thanks again for making the trip. We're delighted to have you and I look forward to a great discussion.

DEFENSE MINISTER HANNO PEVKUR:  So, honorable Secretary Austin (inaudible), thank you very much for these kind words. And then of course, I am very pleased to meet you here in person (inaudible) in Washington and -- to discuss our excellent bilateral defense cooperation we have, especially at this very moment, as Estonia and (the) U.S. are celebrating 100 years of Estonian and U.S. diplomatic relations. So it's -- it's an honor.

We -- we both know that our countries value the same principles of democracy, self-determination and rule-based international order. These principles bring us together and unify us in -- in face of great challenges to our security.

The U.S. commitment to the security of Europe and Estonia is strong and steadfast. We welcome President Biden's decision to enhance rotational deployments of the U.S. troops to the Baltic states. And of course, we are extremely grateful for the long term U.S. security assistance that helped -- helped -- that has helped us to accelerate the development of our military capabilities.

With the support of the U.S. government, you know perfectly well that Estonia will acquire HIMARS systems that will substantially reinforce the Estonian defense (posture ?). And now, talking about our own investments, Estonia is investing a lot of -- in its own security. Our defense budget will be 42 percent higher next year, bringing it to approximately three percent of our GDP.

We will develop a medium-range air defense capability, new anti-tank and anti-vessel systems, and invest a lot, as you mentioned already, into infrastructure and training ranges but also to ammunition. So definitely we are looking for the good allies, including you -- our U.S. welcome -- welcoming (inaudible) in Estonia.

And of course, I would like to thank the U.S. for its leadership in supporting Ukraine to fight for the country and for the freedom. And of course, we will stand united with all of our allies today to make sure that the -- in the future, we will not look back and think that we could have done more.

So thank you, Secretary Austin, for -- personally for keeping up the spirit in the Ukraine Contact Group and also for increasing the U.S. footprint in Estonia. We appreciate it a lot.

SEC. AUSTIN:  Thanks, everybody.