NATO Deputy Secretary General Rose Gottemoeller began a two-day visit to Estonia on Friday (12 May 2017), stressing that Allied forces in Estonia are at the heart of NATO’s collective defence. Visiting British infantry troops at a training range in Tapa, the Deputy Secretary General said that all Allies stand united against any threat. The British army is leading a battlegroup of about 1,000 NATO troops in Estonia. NATO is expanding its presence in the region in response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and its military build-up in the Baltic region.
Addressing engineers, anti-tank troops and snipers at the Tapa training range, the Deputy Secretary General welcomed that troops from the United Kingdom stand side-by-side with their colleagues from Estonia, making clear this sends a strong message of unity. At Tapa, the Deputy Secretary General also received briefings by military officers on exercise Spring Storm, which is currently taking place in Estonia with 9,000 troops from several Allied countries taking part. Also on Friday, Ms. Gottemoeller held talks with Estonian Defence Ministers Margus Tsahkna on the current security environment and progress in the deployment of NATO troops to the Baltic States.
On Saturday, the Deputy Secretary General is scheduled to participate in the annual Lennart Mari Conference, where she will speak on the importance of NATO-EU cooperation for European security. Ms. Gottemoeller will wrap up her visit to Estonia by seeing NATO naval forces in Tallinn harbor, where she will thank sailors onboard the Norwegian navy frigate Roald Amundsen for their service in the defence on the Alliance.