According to the defence secretary of the United Kingdom, Ben Wallace, the UK will send an extra 1,000 British troops to help defend Estonia from a potential Russian attack; that’s in addition to the 2,000 UK troops already in the country.
According to the Times, a British newspaper, the UK, the United States and Germany have committed more troops to defend NATO’s eastern flank.
Wallace said, according to the newspaper that he would place more soldiers, warplanes and a Royal Navy aircraft carrier on standby to head to the region.
The British defence secretary said that as part of the wider plans, an extra 1,000 British soldiers would be committed to Estonia, where there are already 2,000 troops, to create a force that could help to defend against a possible Russian invasion.
“A few hundred extra soldiers could be sent to run the new one-star headquarters – with a brigadier in charge – with the rest based in the UK but ready to fly to the country within days,” the Times said, adding that one of Britain’s two aircraft carriers and its escort ships, as well as other naval assets, would also be offered to the alliance for its new 300,000-strong high-readiness force.
NATO completely united – PM Kallas
“Under the plans, HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales carrier strike groups will rotate so one of them is always ready to go to eastern Europe. The carriers are typically escorted by Type 23 frigates, which have anti-submarine capabilities, Type 45 destroyers with sophisticated air defence systems, and a submarine,” the newspaper asserted.
The Times understands that some equipment will also be sent to Estonia in advance of a potential invasion, so it is ready to use. “However, the commitment falls short of calls by the Baltic states for a permanent division-sized force of potentially 15,000 troops,” the newspaper notes.
At the NATO summit in Madrid, Spain, on 29 June, the Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, said the allies were “completely united” and that there has been a significant shift in NATO’s mindset: Russia has become the major threat to NATO and its allies.
“I am glad that for the first time since the Cold War this is exactly how Russia is perceived in the new strategy just approved by NATO,” Kallas said. “We agreed that in response to Russia’s aggression, NATO would move to a new forward defence posture that makes it possible to defend every square centimetre of NATO territory from the very first moments of an attack. To achieve this, concrete decisions were taken today on strengthening the eastern flank.”
Russia the most significant threat
Kallas said it was crucial to begin implementing this change of direction immediately after the decision by NATO heads of state and government.
“For Estonia, this means cooperating with allies on developing a division-sized unit and its leadership structure, which would be ready to defend Estonia in case of a conflict,” she added.
Kallas was referring to the fact that at the NATO summit, Russia was described as “the most significant and direct threat to allies’ security and to peace and stability in the Euro-Atlantic area”. In the previous concept agreed in 2010, Russia was described as a “strategic partner”.
The secretary-general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, also noted that the alliance had agreed a “fundamental shift” in which the alliance would return to Cold War-style readiness to respond to the increased threat posed by Russia.