The British Army’s Royal Welsh battalion has taken over as the lead unit of the NATO battlegroup in Estonia.
The formal ceremony was held on 18 March in Tapa military base, Estonia.
The British battalion will lead the 1,700-strong NATO battlegroup that also includes French and Danish troops.
“The United Kingdom, France and Denmark have enormously contributed to Estonian and European security and our troops have served together in various military operations. The British Royal Navy and Danish volunteers fought with Estonian forces for our freedom already during our War of Independence more than 100 years ago,” the Estonian foreign minister, Eva-Maria Liimets, said in a speech given at the formal ceremony in Tapa.
“Russian war against Ukraine has created a new security situation for all of us, but especially for the countries on the forefront of the [NATO] alliance. The presence of the allies here today is more vital to protect stability and security of our region than ever,” the minister added.
The Royal Welsh battalion will be operating under the command of the Estonian 1st Infantry Brigade. It also has armoured capabilities, such as the Challenger 2 main battle tanks and the Warrior armoured fighting vehicle.
The origins of the Royal Welsh date back to 1689, with involvement in every major campaign the British Army has taken part in – including D-Day in World War Two and Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
Since the annexation of Crimea by Russia in 2014, several NATO member states have committed troops in the Baltic region – on request by the host nations that are concerned by Moscow’s aggression. The NATO’s battlegroup in Estonia is led by the UK, with France and Denmark also contributing troops. The NATO battlegroups in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland are led by Canada, Germany and the US, respectively.