A team of Estonian, British and Danish soldiers and officers – part of the NATO battlegroup currently stationed in Estonia – cycle over 1,000 kilometres (600 miles) across the country in a show of unity.
The tour, called “NATO Velo” started in Tartu, Estonia’s second largest town, on 15 August and continues to the west coast of Estonia, across the islands of Saaremaa and Hiiumaa before riding onwards to Tallinn and Narva, the Estonian border town overlooking Russia, where the tour ends on 21 August.
“This will be a remarkable show of the unity and spirit of cooperation that is long established between the Estonian Defence Force and the British and Danish troops that make up the NATO Battlegroup here in Estonia,” colonel Paul Clayton, the commander of the NATO contingent stationed in Estonia, said in a statement. “The added bonus is the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful Estonian countryside while physically challenging ourselves.”
Throughout the tour, the NATO battlegroup will host “meet the soldiers” engagement events, coinciding with the cycling team’s arrival in various towns. At these events, Estonians will have the opportunity to meet the soldiers, see some of their equipment – from small arms to armoured vehicles – and learn about NATO and its presence in Estonia.
“The equipment and heavy armour which we bring to Estonia is an important part of our defensive role here. But it is also essential that we go out and meet the Estonian public and do our best to earn their welcome and support,” Clayton said.
Cover: “NATO Velo” started in Tartu. Photos by the Estonian Defence Forces.