Russia's invasion of Ukraine has confirmed the need for British and other NATO personnel to remain in Estonia, one senior British commander, whose tank unit is to remain in-country for the next few months, told regional daily Virumaa Teataja (VT).
While the Royal Tank Regiment (RTR) no longer makes up the lead unit within the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battlegroup based in Tapa, its commander, Lt. Col. Simon Worth, told VT that relating to recent events in Ukraine the regiment would not be returning to the U.K. immediately but would be staying on in Estonia for several more months.
Lt Col. Worth said that: "Of course, because of what has been going on in Europe and particularly in Ukraine, this has given greater emphasis and importance to what we do here, and it's been a real honor to make, in our small way, a contribution to broader efforts to bolster NATO security."
"The most tangible evidence of change [since war began] is that we have doubled the number of troops here; this gives a very clear signal of our commitment to NATO and Estonian security," he continued.
As to NATO naysayers inside Estonia who cast doubt on the alliance's willingness or ability to defend the country should the Russian Federation repeat in Estonia what it has been doing in Ukraine, Lt Col. Worth said: " I would ask them to just come and see us and let us explain the detail, the meet our soldiers, and to see how committed we are to protecting this nation and to European security, and I think the most powerful way of answering that is to allow people to speak to my soldiers and see how passionately they feel about defending those things we hold dear – our national sovereignty, our freedom and our democracy."
The full video excerpt is here.
While the U.K. usually rotates its eFP battlegroup personnel twice a year, in March and September, the security situation even before Russia's invasion of Ukraine which started on February 24 has led to the incoming group arriving a little early and the departing group leaving a little later, giving an overlap with the two groups of a few months.
The new battlegroup which started arriving in early February will take the number of British soldiers in Estonia to almost 1,700 during this time.
Editor: Andrew Whyte