Ukraine: Royal Welsh soldiers support Estonia amid conflict

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Welsh soldiers based in Estonia say they are “ready” to deter and defend any possible Russian attack as the nation called for more Nato support.

The Royal Welsh regiment has been leading a 1,200-strong Nato training taskforce in Estonia, bordering Russia.

Estonia’s permanent secretary for defence, Kusti Salm, said the threat from Russia was “as clear as anything can be” after the Ukraine invasion.

He called on Nato to double troops stationed in the country.

Estonia’s President Alar Karis warned earlier this week that Mr Putin’s government could use hybrid warfare, including cyber attacks, against his people

The troops, who are in Tapa, near the eastern border with Russia, are ready to meet any challenge “head on”, according to Lt Col Ru Streatfeild.

He said: “Our role here is to deter and to be ready to defend.

“Regardless of what happens we are ready for that. That’s what this exercise is about and it’s given confidence to our people. We are ready.”

BBC Wales’ Newyddion S4C was given access to a training exercise for any potential attack, which included ground troops, tanks, armoured vehicles and aircraft from the UK, France, Denmark and Estonia.

Fusillier Jack Wilkes, from Tywyn, Gwynedd, also has confidence the current force could combat any threat to the east.

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He said: “You’ve got to be professional and ready to move at any time. I think we are. I’m confident with all the boys we’d be ready [to counter a Russian attack].”

A tank coming through green smoke

Mr Salm said more troops in Estonia would help the country ensure it would be able to fully combat any threat from its neighbour.

“I think this is what Nato needs to do to in order to face the threat coming from Russia,” he told BBC Wales, claiming Russia has “made no secret about their intent to eventually dismantle Nato”.

Another soldier, Rhydian Stephens, 23, said there was a sense of frustration of being on the outside looking in on events in Ukraine, but he said the their role in Estonia was important.

“Obviously it’s not our job to make those decisions, but we are looking at the news and seeing what’s happen and we do want to help. It’s what we joined the army to do – to help.

“But obviously we need to be here in Estonia – that’s why we’re here.”

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