Britain is sending 800 assault troops to Europe’s border with Russia

 

Britain is sending 800 assault troops to Europe’s border with Russia in the UK’s largest military deployment against Moscow since the Cold War.

An advance spearhead of 130 soldiers flew to Estonia to bolster the nation’s defences against the military might of Vladimir Putin.

Backed by 300 armoured vehicles, including Challenger 2 tanks, the force will swell to 800 within weeks.

It is part of a huge NATO operation in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland to strengthen 700 miles of Eastern Europe’s borders with Russia.

The mood was one of calm and focus. Captain Gav Dunlop said: “I’m not really worried if we get into a full tank battle. We are trained and ready.”

Troops landed at the Amari air base near the capital Tallinn, and will be sent to Tapa army base, which blocks the main route from Russia to the city.

In total there will be more than 4,000 international troops pitted against a Russian attack in the four countries.

The NATO deployment is designed to ensure there is no repeat of Russia’s overnight takeover of Crimea and parts of East Ukraine.

Britain will lead a foreign force of 1,100 troops, including French and Danish soldiers, in Estonia.

The US, Canada and Germany will each take lead roles in one of the three other nations. UK troops will also support the US in Poland.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said: “In the face of an increasingly assertive Russia, NATO is stepping up its commitment to collective defence.”

Troops have been warned to expect Russian espionage as Putin wants to discredit NATO’s presence by spreading lies about sex crimes and violence.

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