British soldiers are braving the cold winds with temperatures as low as -12C as they take part in NATO war games 80 miles away from Russia. The squaddies are flying in Chinook helicopters and charging around the snow-covered forest with tanks as they face the icy conditions of eastern Estonia.
A British tank driver told The Sun: “We can see that our Estonian counterparts are worried about what’s going on with Russia. But they feel we are here to help.”
Temperatures in Keskpolügoon, or the Central Training Area, are down to -5C, but a blisteringly cold wind means it feels like at least -9C.
The temperatures are expected to drop down to -12C in the coming days.
A French soldier working with NATO told the publication “it is warm!” while joking about the weather.
The camp is around an hour and a half drive from the Estonian capital Tallinn, through snow-covered fields dotted with farmhouses and Soviet-era apartment blocks.
Dense forests of fir trees provide perfect cover for camouflaged tanks and military vehicles.
On the vast military base, about the size of 15,000 football pitches, British troops along with other NATO forces, including the native Estonian army, have been building up for huge war games featuring heavy armour, helicopters, and rocket launchers.
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It’s also a crucial show of support for Estonia and the other former countries in the former Soviet Union, as Vladimir Putin’s bloody invasion of Ukraine approaches the one-year anniversary.
The soldier told The Sun: “We have a close bond as part of Nato now. Nato is one team, and the Estonians have got on board with that. They’ve opened their arms to us, and they’re learning from us. If anything was to happen in the future, we’ll be ready for anything.”
One of his French counterparts, Julien, a lieutenant who commands a 30-person platoon, agreed.
He said: “It is important for the Estonians to see all of us from Nato here. It allows us to reassure them. To show them that Nato and the West are with them. They have a possible enemy nearby. They are aware they are in a risky situation.”