Germany has taken a more active role in protecting the Baltic states; currently, around 200 German troops are based in the Estonian town of Tapa.
Due to a difficult history, the post-WWII Germany avoided sending its military to foreign missions, but this policy has changed in recent decades. This year, the German armed forces saw an increase in numbers for the first time since the end of the Cold War, in response to threats posed by an aggressive Russia as well as Islamic fundamentalism, such as ISIS.
In Estonia and the Baltic states – Latvia, Lithuania – Germany has provided a rotating air defence support for years, as part of the NATO Baltic mission. The three countries have no airborne defence capability and it is left to the allied aircraft to protect their skies from “off-course” Russian jets that regularly violate their airspace. Four Luftwaffe Eurofighter jets are currently based at Ämari Air Base, Estonia.
The 200 German troops from Gebirgsjägerbrigade 23 of the Bundeswehr have served in Estonia since early summer and are due to stay until the end of September. The German soldiers are getting acquainted with the Estonian landscape and conditions and are conducting joint exercises with the Estonian defence forces. Both countries’ troops have previously served together in the Horn of Africa and currently participate in an UN-led mission in Mali.
Images courtesy of Estonian Defence Forces.