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TALLINN - On Friday night close to 130 British troops, part of the 1,200-strong NATO battle group to be stationed in Estonia this spring, arrived at the Amari air base, spokespeople for Estonian defense headquarters report.
"The participation of British, French and Danish service members is a clear sign that countries of the alliance stand jointly in defense of peace and freedom. Here in Estonia you'll be defending the whole NATO, not just Estonia," Minister of Defense Margus Tsahkna told the Brits.
The soldiers were welcomed by British Ambassador Theresa Bubbear and commander of the 1st Infantry Brigade Col. Veiko-Vello Palm as well.
Previously 80 British troops had started service in this country to prepare in cooperation with members of the Estonian defense forces for the arrival of the personnel and equipment of the NATO battle group.
The first 50 members of the battle group's French contingent are scheduled to arrive in Estonia on March 20. French troops will serve in the battle group for the next eight months after which they will be replaced by a Danish contingent. The remainder of the battle group as well as their equipment is to arrive here in the coming weeks.
Leaders of NATO countries decided at the Warsaw summit last year to deploy allied troops to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland in response to the changed security environment. The contingent to be stationed in Estonia will be led by the UK, with additional troops contributed by France and Denmark.