Estonia

Estonia welcomes reports of additional deployment of UK troops

Plans have emerged to reinforce the British-led NATO battlegroup, as Russia continues its military build up along Estonian borders.

The Estonian Ministry of Defence's top official has welcomed reports that more UK troops could be sent to the country.

British, French and Estonian troops are currently training on Exercise Winter Camp and the UK has maintained a continuous presence in Estonia since 2017.

Now, plans have emerged to reinforce the British-led NATO battlegroup with additional troops as Russia continues its military build-up along Estonian borders.

Kusti Salm, Permanent Secretary of the Estonian Ministry of Defence, said if there was a conflict, Estonia's NATO allies would "immediately be involved" and there would be an "automatic reinforcement".

Events in Ukraine, and an aggressive Russian diplomatic stance, are a concern for NATO and its members, with the Estonian government keen to see more western allies deployed to the country.

Watch: Estonia requests increased NATO presence amid Russia tensions.13th January 2022.

Kristjan Mäe, head of the Estonian Ministry of Defense's NATO and EU department, told Forces News a battlegroup has already been "well integrated into the Estonian First Infantry Brigade".

"We will have no issues, no problems whatsoever, in integrating an additional battalion in Estonia," he said.

There are also calls for a greater US presence in the region – to both determine potential Russian aggression and give a stronger bargaining position in talks with Moscow.

However, while many in the country think more troops being deployed here is a good thing, there's concern the numbers won't be enough to face off against the huge military presence Russia has along the borders.

Silver Tambur, Editor-in-Chief of Estonian World, told Forces News people are "skeptical about NATO's ability to actually defend Estonia".

"People do realise that 1,000 or 2,000 troops is not enough to actually defend in case of [an] actual invasion or attack by Russia," he said.