US deploys troops near Russian borders
Considering that the Baltic country shares borders with Russia, the initiative is intended to strengthen the deterrence and defense posture on NATO's eastern flank.
Estonia's defense ministry announced on Saturday that a US infantry company arrived at Taara base in Võru this week as part of a deployment to train and serve with the Second Infantry Brigade of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) and enhance the presence of rotational US forces in the Baltic region.
Considering that the Baltic country shares borders with Russia, the initiative is also intended to strengthen the deterrence and defense posture on NATO's eastern flank.
Moreover, the Taara base in the town of Voru is situated approximately 20 kilometers from the Russian border.
"The US Infantry Unit will also include a battalion command element that will allow us to integrate our allies on a brigade level and gain an additional maneuver unit," said Colonel Mati Tikerpuu, commander of the Second Infantry Brigade of the Estonian Defense Forces.
"This will help us to train by using our allies' additional capabilities and increasing the brigade's combat power," Tikerpuu said.
According to the EDF press statement, Washington is expected to deploy a HIMARS platoon to Estonia, along with the corresponding control equipment and systems. The US will assist Estonian Defense Forces to learn to operate the multiple-launch rocket systems before it receives its own HIMARS units by 2025.
The statement added the presence of US troops is concrete proof of Washington’s and Tallinn’s "shared values and interests" and would serve to illustrate the "excellent defense and security relations" between the two nations.
Military authorities in Tallinn have recently called for an increase in NATO's presence on the grounds of “deteriorating security environment” in Europe and in light of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine.
In turn, Moscow has repeatedly condemned the buildup, characterizing the strengthening of NATO's eastern flank as part of the preparations for a preemptive military strike on Russia.
What are Russia's demands?
In light of NATO's eastward expansion, Russia's demands could shortly be summarized as follows: a ban on Ukraine's membership to NATO, a limit to the deployment of troops and weapons to NATO's eastern flank, for the west to provide Russia "legal guarantees" of it's security, and for NATO rule out further expansion.
On July 15, the US reportedly approved the sale of six of the sophisticated mobile rocket launchers to Estonia along with other high-end gear "to modernize its armed forces and expand its capability to strengthen its homeland defense and deter regional threats."
The deal was concluded on December 3, with the Director at Estonian Centre for Defence Investment Magnus-Valdemar Saar calling the deal "Estonia's biggest armament contract ever."
#HIMARS Deal is finally done! This is Estonias biggest armament contract ever.— Magnus-Valdemar Saar (@magnus_saar) December 3, 2022
Thanks to everybody on both sides who put in an effort to make it happen.
Had the signing ceremony at Ambassadors residence in Washington DC @Estonia_in_US. pic.twitter.com/vGVOacJmmj