British daily: Deployment of additional UK troops to Estonia confirmed
The arrival of close to 900 British Army personnel in Estonia later this month has been confirmed, British newspaper The Independent reported on its website Wednesday evening, following an agreement made between NATO defense ministers in response to mounting Russian aggression and threats against Ukraine.
The new contingent will be centered on a heavy infantry battalion from the Royal Welsh, whose personnel will be leaving bases in Germany and the UK over the next few days The Independent reports, and will join the existing battlegroup at Tapa, east of Tallinn, doubling the number of British soldiers in Estonia.
U.K. defense minister Ben Wallace, who attended the defense ministers' meeting, held in Brussels, said: "Alongside our NATO Allies, we are deploying troops and assets on land, sea and air to bolster European defenses in response to the build-up of Russian military forces on the border of Ukraine."
"NATO and our allies have been clear that an invasion of Ukraine will be met with severe consequences," Wallace added, according to a U.K. Ministry of Defense press release.
"De-escalation and diplomacy remain the only path out of this situation," the minister added.
The other deployments will include AgustaWestland Apache attack helicopters in Army Air Corps service, set to engage in joint allied exercises in Central and Eastern Europe, and four RAF Eurofighter Typhoon combat jets, currently making their way to the region via Cyprus.
The full Independent article is here.
The troops and equipment began to move to Estonia yesterday, February 16, the U.K. defense ministry says, while the bulk of 350 personnel from 45 Commando of Britain's elite Royal Marines have already arrived in Poland.
One thousand U.K. military personnel have also been placed on readiness in Britain and would support a humanitarian response to any incursion in Ukraine, where needed, the ministry added.
Britain's ambassador to Estonia Ross Allen told ERR News earlier this month that the first of the new intake of U.K. troops would be arriving later in February, would total around 850 and would complement the existing British-led NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup at Tapa.
How long the new contingent will stay is hard to say in the unfolding defense and security situation, Allen added, but was likely to be a minimum of two to three months, while its personnel would be taking part in the Estonian military's annual large-scale Exercise Siil.
The eFP Battlegroup at Tapa became a reality in early 2017 after a decision made at the 2016 Warsaw Summit. Troops from Denmark and France regularly contribute to rotations also.
The model is replicated in Lithuania (German-led), Latvia (Canadian-led) and Poland (U.S.-led) and is distinct from the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission based at Ämari.
At the core of the current Tapa battlegroup is the Royal Tank Regiment's (RTR) Dreadnaught Squadron.
1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh is an armored infantry battalion. The battalion has already served a rotation with the eFP, back in 2017 (see cover image).
This article was updated to include information from the British Ministry of Defense.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte