Over 100 NATO military vehicles arrive in Estonia as part of ‘biggest deployment since Cold War’
Scores of tanks, self-propelled artillery guns and other military hardware have started to arrive in Estonia from the UK and Germany, in what the UK defense minister has called the largest deployment in Eastern Europe since the Cold War.
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The first of hundreds of UK military vehicles have arrived in Estonia on Wednesday, delivered by a ferry from ports in Britain and Germany, the UK Ministry of Defence reported.
The heavy military equipment – Challenger 2 tanks, Terrier, Titan and Trojan armored battlefield engineer vehicles as well as Warrior infantry fighting vehicles – will be moved from an Estonian port to a military base in Tapa, the ministry statement said.
The delivery is aimed to support a British battle group in the eastern European country, it added, emphasizing that it’s "one of the largest ever NATO deployments" to the region.
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"This is the start of one of the biggest deployment in Eastern Europe since the Cold War," UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said, adding that by the end of April there will be "800 British troops, with armor, with tanks" in Estonia, close to Russia's borders.
NATO has justified the arrival of the vehicles, which follow a deployment of over a hundred British military personnel to Estonia, by boosting security in the region against hypothetical “Russian aggression.”
UK troops deployed in Estonia to ‘defend NATO’ from Russia https://t.co/TCc2WCkjVopic.twitter.com/UxrzzOSC9D— RT (@RT_com) 18 марта 2017 г.
American, French and German troops have already arrived to Estonia within NATO’s international battalions, Interfax reported, citing the local Postimees newspaper. By the end of next month, some 1,650 international troops are expected to be present at the Tapa and Amari military bases, with the latter to host NATO's air forces from Germany.
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The buildup is part of a large NATO mission to deploy four multinational battalions in the Baltics, agreed by the military alliance last year. Moscow has repeatedly criticized the move, saying NATO’s eastward expansion on the Russian border with the expected 4,000 troops plus tanks, armored vehicles, air support and high-tech intelligence centers in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland will only undermine the security balance on the continent.