The first British and French troops have arrived in Estonia to reinforce the eastern flank of NATO; the troops are supported by tanks and heavy artillery.
The first 120 UK troops arrived in Estonia in the second half of March, accompanied by 50 French marines. Altogether, the UK will send over 800 troops to defend Estonia from a potential Russian threat; the French will deploy 300 marines.
“This is the start of one of the biggest deployment in Eastern Europe since the Cold War and by the end of next month, we will have 800 British troops, with armour, with tanks, ready to help reassure our allies and to underline our commitment to the security of Europe,” the British defence secretary, Michael Fallon, said in a statement.
“British troops are playing a leading role in Estonia and supporting our US allies in Poland, as part of wider efforts to defend NATO,” he added.
Tanks and armoured vehicles
The British and French troops will be working with the 1st Estonian Infantry Brigade of the Estonian Defence Forces.
In addition to the troops, the first group of British tanks and armoured vehicles have arrived in Estonia. The armoured convoy consists of 130 units, including Challenger 2 tanks and self-propelled guns.
Altogether, over 300 war vehicles will arrive by the end of March 2017. Also, a group of French armoured vehicles has arrived in the country, most notably VBCI tracked infantry fighting vehicles and Leclerc main battle tanks.
The French contingent will be replaced by Danish troops in 2018.
Images courtesy of Estonian Defence Forces.