A few weeks ago, I reported on a series of attempted breaches of security as Russian jets headed toward U.K. airspace. Jets were scrambled from all over the country and the Russian bombers changed course as if nothing had ever happened. Earlier still, a Russian ship steamed on past England’s shores, a bit close for comfort. It’s now gone up a notch, as 800 British troops have just been deployed to Estonia to deter against Russia’s aggressive tactics in Eastern Europe.
The first wave of troops deployed from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire on March 17th. This wave consisted of 120 soldiers from the 5th Battalion, the Rifles, who landed at the Ämari Air Base, 25 miles southwest of the Estonian capital, Tallinn. They were welcomed by Estonia’s defense minister, Margus Tsahkna, who recognized that this is the largest deployment of Western troops anywhere in the region since the Cold War. The first group represents an advance party and will set up headquarters in the country to prepare for the others’ arrival next month.
French and Danish forces have also deployed to provide “a proportionate, defensive, and combat-capable force to defend our NATO ally and deter any form of hostile activity against the alliance,” the ministry of defense said. Fairly strong words and even stronger actions from the U.K., which has troops deployed all around the world and could probably have done without this.
Britain is once again taking a leading role in the Estonia battle group while other NATO members are deploying forces to Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence battalion.