US troops deployed near Russian border
A United States infantry company arrived in Estonia this week as part of NATO’s effort to bolster the military bloc’s eastern border with Russia, the Baltic country’s defense ministry has revealed.
A statement published on the ministry’s website on Friday said that US service members are stationed at Taara base in the town of Voru, some 20 kilometers from the Russian border.
Commenting on the US service members’ arrival, Colonel Mati Tikerpuu, the commander of the 2nd Infantry Brigade of the Estonian Defense Forces, said he expects to be able to “integrate our allies on a brigade level and gain an additional maneuver unit.”
Colonel Richard Ikena, US 1st Infantry Division Artillery Commander, said American troops are “excited to be in Estonia” and “look forward to working shoulder-to-shoulder, alongside our Allies.”
The statement added that Washington is also expected to deploy a HIMARS platoon to Estonia along with associated command and control equipment and systems. Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said this would allow Estonian troops to “learn the ropes” of operating the multiple launch rocket systems before it receives its own HIMARS units by 2025.
The ministry said the arrival of US service members would be proof of Washington’s and Tallinn’s “shared values and interests” and would serve to illustrate the “excellent defense and security relations” between the two nations.
Military officials in Tallinn put the need for an increased NATO presence in the country down to the “deteriorating security environment” in Europe and to Russia’s “unprovoked aggression” in Ukraine.
Moscow, in turn, has repeatedly condemned the buildup of the alliance’s forces on its borders and the funneling of arms into Ukraine, saying this will only prolong the conflict without changing the outcome.