British defence secretary Michael Fallon went on a visit to Estonia on Thursday to mark the deployment of 800 British troops on Russia’s doorstep.
The move is part of a NATO effort to deter Russia from interfering in the Baltic states like it did in Ukraine when it annexed Crimea. The transatlantic alliance has been building up its military presence in the region and in Poland.
“We are sending the strongest of signals that we stick by our friends and we stand united in the face of aggression,” Fallon said.
Fallon took advantage of the visit to take a swipe at Jeremy Corbyn, calling the Labour leader feeble and gutless on defence.
Meanwhile Romania said it plans to buy Patriot missiles from the US to help protect its airspace, just as hundreds of Romanian and US troops braved the blizzard and tested their tanks and aircraft in a display of their military forces.
NATO commanders say deterrence is key.
“This is all about defending the alliance, it is not about being aggressive towards anyone,” said Major General John L Gronsky, deputy commanding general for the National Guard:
Russia has criticised NATO’s military buildup as an agression on its borders. Earlier this week, it reportedly deployed more than 10 of its warships in the Baltic Sea, to fire missiles as part of a training exercise off the coast of Kaliningrad.