More British soldiers to arrive in Estonia this month
There are plans to send hundreds more British soldiers to Estonia this month to reinforce the NATO battlegroup in Tapa as tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue to mount.
The UK leads Estonia's Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battlegroup with approximately 850 soldiers stationed in Estonia alongside French, Danish and Icelandic forces, taking the total to almost 1,200.
The UK usually rotates its battlegroup troops every six months in March and September. This time it is planned that the new battlegroup will arrive a little early and the departing group will leave a little later, meaning two rotations should be stationed in Estonia temporarily for a "few months". This will take the number of British soldiers in Estonia to almost 1,700 during this time.
"Our plan is for the first soldiers to arrive this month - in February," said the UK's Ambassador to Estonia Ross Allen on Friday.
The troops will come to Estonia from Germany. "And they are preparing at the moment. And that's about 850 soldiers, like the battle group we already have in Estonia," he said.
The reinforced battlegroup will stay in Estonia for the annual spring military exercise "Siil" but it is not known for exactly how long.
"It depends. But maybe two or three months. [...] It will depend on how serious the security situation is in our region in the future," the ambassador said.
The final plans will be signed off next week, Allen told ERR News.
Commander of the Defense Forces Lieutenant General Martin Herem said there is room to station additional British forces in Tapa.
"When the eFP battle group is changed, we will have and always have had more than 2,000 people at a time. Some will be in the barracks and others in the reception area," Herem told ETV's evening news show "Aktuaalne kaamera".
Discussions have been held for several weeks to send more troops to Estonia as tensions rise with Russia over Ukraine and last month UK Prime Minister said plans were afoot to double the number.
The UK is not the only NATO country to reinforce the region. Denmark and the U.S.A. have sent additional fighter jets to Lithuania and Estonia. Denmark and the Netherlands have also sent warships to the Baltic Sea.
Editor's note: More details explaining the UK's plans and total troop numbers were added to this article.
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Editor: Helen Wright