Estonia: Wreath laying ceremony at the Freedom Square in Tallinn
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NATO’s secretary general Jens Stoltenberg marked the 12-month anniversary of Russia’s full scale Ukraine invasion by going to the neighbouring Baltic state of Estonia in a move to mock Russian President Vladimir Putin. With NATO allies now pouring weapons into Ukraine and the Russian advance stalled in places and retreating in others, Stoltenberg underlined the NATO alliance’s commitment to the Baltic states at a wreath-laying ceremony.
During his trip just a few miles from the Russian border, the NATO chief paid tribute to Estonian freedom fighters who gave their lives in the struggle against Russian oppression.
In a swipe at the atrocities Putin has ordered, he likened their struggle to those of the people of Ukraine today.
His presence also made it clear that any wider Russian ambitions to expand the war into its former territories in the Baltics would be met by force in response from NATO.
At a joint press conference with Estonian Prime Minister Kallas and European Commission President von der Leyen, the Secretary General said “Over a hundred years ago, Estonian troops fought bravely for their freedom and independence. Your history is a strong reminder that we cannot take freedom for granted.”
He went on: “Today, it is the Ukrainian people who are bravely fighting for their freedom. And despite a dark year of despair and destruction, their determination and courage will no doubt prevail.”
The move will infuriate Putin who has highlighted the Batlic states also including Lithuania and Latvia as part of so-called expansionist agression by the NATO alliance against his country.
The UK has around 4,000 troops based in the Baltics to help the NATO guarantee of protection against a Russian invasion.
Other world leaders have been marking the anniversary of Russia’s push in Ukraine including former Prime Minister Boris Johnson renewing calls for fighter jets to be sent there to help.
Meanwhile, Rishi Sunak today will have a video conference with other leaders from the western alliance to discuss how to provide further help for Ukraine.
It is understood he willl call for more long range missles to be sent to support President Zelensky’s forces as well as extra artillery.
So far the UK government is resiting calls to send Typhoon fighter jets to Ukraine.
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