Boris Johnson tells UK troops in Estonia their presence is ‘fundamental’ to security

British PM said their place on the frontline ensured the world enjoyed 'greater peace and security'

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Estonian leader Kaja Kallas meet Nato troops stationed in Tallinn. AP
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British troops have been told by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that their presence on Nato’s flank with Russia was “fundamental” for the security of the alliance’s members.

Mr Johnson greeted and joked with British armed forces stationed in Estonia during his trip on Tuesday to Eastern Europe.

He told the servicemen and women that the world enjoyed “greater peace and security because you are on the front line of our collective western defence”.

Mr Johnson wished troops from the Royal Welsh regiment a happy St David’s Day when he met them at the Tapa base.

“I think what you’re doing is fundamental for the safety, security of all of our nations, but also of our values – freedom, democracy, independent sovereign nations," he told the British troops.

“That’s what we believe in, that’s what Nato sticks up for.”

Mr Johnson met the serving personnel alongside Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas.

He joked that Ms Kallas had told him British troops were “behaving particularly well”, to which Ms Kallas told Mr Johnson they should “keep it that way”.

Mr Johnson was shown around by Lt Col Simon Worth, Commanding Officer of the Royal Tank Regiment Battlegroup.

The prime minister said it was “pretty nippy” in Estonia and discussed being allowed to drive one of the armoured military vehicles on a previous visit.

“When I first came here you let me drive one at some point,” Mr Johnson said. “Straight over the tundra.”

After the visit to Tapa, Ms Kallas said Natomust find “more ways to cripple Putin’s war machine”.

“This is a clear signal of unity, strong support and solidarity," she tweeted. “Our unwavering message in this current crisis: we must stop Putin’s war and #StandWithUkraine.”

Mr Johnson replied by tweeting: “You have our full support Kaja.

“We are committed to helping Ukraine and protecting our Nato friends and allies – exactly why we’ve doubled numbers of British troops in Estonia in recent weeks.”

He also held talks with Estonian President Alar Karis, in which they discussed the Ukraine crisis and Nato’s response to the Russian invasion.

“The leaders condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and their brutal attacks on innocent civilians, which they agreed had the hallmarks of a dark past that the European continent thought was forgotten," a Downing Street spokeswoman said.

“The prime minister and President Karis agreed that the world must come together to denounce Russia’s action and support the people of Ukraine.”

Mr Karis thanked Mr Johnson for doubling the UK’s troop presence in Estonia to “fortify Nato’s defences” at the alliance’s border with Russia.

Updated: March 01, 2022, 10:57 PM
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