On Friday night, close to 130 British troops, part of the 1,200-strong NATO contingent to be stationed in Estonia this spring, arrived at Ämari Air Base, spokespeople for the Headquarters of the Estonian Defence Forces said.
"The participation of British, French and Danish service members is a clear sign that countries of the alliance stand jointly in defense of peace and freedom," Estonian Minister of Defence Margus Tsahkna told the newly arrived soldiers. "Here in Estonia you'll be defending all of NATO, not just Estonia."
The soldiers were also welcomed by British Ambassador Theresa Bubbear and Commander of the 1st Infantry Brigade Col. Veiko-Vello Palm.
Prior to Friday, 80 troops from the U.K. had begun serving in Estonia in order to prepare for the arrival of the personnel and equipment of the NATO battle group in cooperation with members of the Estonian Defence Forces.
The first 50 members of the group's French forces are scheduled to arrive in Estonia on Monday, March 20. French troops will servein the allied battle group for the next eight months, following which they will be replaced by a Danish contingent. The remainder of the battle group as well as their equipment is to arrive in th country in the coming weeks.
NATO leaders decided at the Warsaw Summit last July to deploy allied troops to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in response to the changed security environment. The contingent to be stationed in Estonia will be led by the U.K. and supported by France and Denmark.
Editor: Aili Vahtla