US troops land in Estonia for war games on Russia’s doorstep

Tuesday, April 29, 2014
By Paul Martin
Tuesday Apr 29, 2014

Amid escalating crisis in Ukraine, the United States has sent about 150 American troops to Estonia that has a mutual border with Russia.

The troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade landed at the Amari airbase in western Estonia on Monday as part of a contingent of 600 to participate in a series of military drills throughout the year.

“The transatlantic link is not something that Estonians take for granted. Rather, we see it as a vital element of security in an unsecure world,” said Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who welcomed the soldiers.

“This is why we so appreciate Allied boots on the ground here,” he added.

At least 450 US soldiers already arrived in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland over the last week for joint war games, according to the US Department of Defense.

Meanwhile, four British fighter jets landed in Siauliai airbase in northern Lithuania on Monday, the first of 12 fighters scheduled to be deployed in the three Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

“Clearly we are here to reassure our Baltic allies that we are able to protect their airspace, should it be needed,” British Royal Air Force commanding officer Simon Hulme told reporters in Siauliai.

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