Russia has embarked on a race reminiscent of the Cold War and bringing US forces to Estonia is a clear demonstration that this is where the NATO border lies, said the deputy head of the Headquarters of the Estonian Defense Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Eero Rebo.
Rebo told ETV in a live interview on Monday that the arrival of the US troops is part of a wider deterrence package, aimed at sending a clear message.
173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team arrived at the Ämari air base Monday afternoon.
“It is certainly a two-sided game. If the stakes are raised on the other side of the eastern border, NATO will have to do the same. The 150 [US troops] is certainly an example of sending a message. Large NATO units are actually still in NATO’s bases and ready to respond, should the actual military need arise,” he said.
Rebo added that the 150-strong unit is symbolic, but also large enough for the Estonian soldiers to conduct exercises with them and achieve real results in terms of training.
“These 150 people have more battle weight, so to say, than your average 150 soldiers. It is a clear signal to Putin’s regime that this is where the NATO border is, Estonia is secure. It is also a signal to us that we are not alone: we have support, when necessary,” he said.
“We did not start this race reminiscent of the Cold War and it is unlikely that these decisions to cross the [Ukrainian] border were made without expecting a response from NATO,” Rebo said, when asked whether the arrival of the US unit would irritate Estonia’s eastern neighbor.
He agreed with suggestions that Estonia should host permanent NATO units, because it would bring greater security and would also allow to significantly increase the units based here in a short time.