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Ukraine conflict: NATO bolsters Baltics

Canada is preparing the persistent deployment of up to 2,200 troops with a squadron of 15 Leopard 2 tanks in Latvia. (Krauss-Maffei Wegmann)

The United Kingdom signed a long-term defence co-operation agreement with Estonia on the fringes of the 11–12 October meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels, while Germany and Canada reiterated their plans to defend Lithuania and Latvia, respectively.

After signing the agreement with UK Secretary of State for Defence Grant Shapps on 11 October, Estonian Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur said the agreement's “scope allows us to expand co-operation on land, at sea, in the air, as well as in cyberspace” with the objective of better integrating UK forces into Estonian defence. “In the agreement, we also confirmed our ambition to align our co-operation to the new NATO regional plans over the next decade. That means, for example, the allocation of a brigade to Estonia, the deployment exercise of that brigade in 2025, staff officers in the Estonian Division, as well as the support of the UK to the creation of the new division,” Pevkur added.

The UK has allocated an armoured brigade at high readiness to rapidly reinforce Estonia and uplifted the headquarters of the UK-led NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battlegroup to brigadier level to increase the capability to receive brigade-level reinforcements when needed.

The UK has deployed a divisional advisory team to Estonia on an enduring basis to support the establishment of the Estonian Division and will embed staff officers into it to further enhance the UK's integration with the division.

The UK will exercise its very high readiness 16 Air Assault Brigade Combat Team during Estonia's annual Exercise ‘Spring Storm 2024' and the British Army armoured brigade allocated to the Estonian Division in 2025.

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