Ukraine war has given Estonian military 'confidence' in its forces

Watch: Ukraine war has given Estonian military 'confidence' in its forces

The war in Ukraine has given the Estonian military "confidence" in its forces and their training against threats posed by Russia, according to one of its infantry commanders.

Colonel Andrus Merilo, Commander of Estonia's 1st Infantry Brigade, told Forces News ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine that Estonia's military readiness is "extremely high level".

He said: "We have been preparing to defend Estonia since 1991, this is not a new one.

"Russia has been our neighbour for centuries and we have also understood and know that Russia will possess threat to the neighbours, so we have been practising for this one.

"The Ukraine war just gives us confidence that so far what we have done has been right and our readiness is extremely high level."

Col Merilo spoke during Exercise Winter Camp - a Nato training exercise which included British Army soldiers.

Estonia is only a small nation with a population under 1.5m and is heavily reliant on Nato forces as part of its national defence plan.

UK troops have been in the country since 2017 as part of Nato's Enhanced Forward Presence programme in the Baltics - strengthening the alliance's eastern flank to deter Russian aggression.

Watch: British Army shows off artillery firepower in Estonia.

Estonia says it is ready to defend itself and the war in Ukraine has led Tallinn to invest heavily in long-range multiple rocket systems like the UK's MLRS and the US' Himars.

"Approximately 80% killed in action [in Ukraine] are coming not from the close fight but long-fire," Estonia's defence minister Hanno Pevkur said.

"This is why we changed here our decisions very quickly, acquiring Himars, acquiring new K9s, propelled howitzers."

The Estonians are not just watching the war in Ukraine, they are actively engaged in supporting Kyiv and recently sent their entire supply of 155mm Howitzers to Ukrainian forces.

Estonia has so far spent approximately 1% of its entire gross domestic product (GDP) – a measure of the size of the economy – on military aid to Ukraine; the tiny nation hopes to set an example to larger, more powerful allies and send a message to its warlike neighbour that it will not be bullied or pressured into submission.

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