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British and foreign NATO troops are preparing for war with Russia by taking part in World War 1-style war games in the blistering Estonian cold, just 80 miles away from the Russian border. The troops took to frozen trenches as they showed off the world’s most powerful tanks and other high-tech weapons.
The drills, which included French, Danish, US and Estonian soldiers, come slightly over two weeks before the one-year anniversary of Putin’s invasion.
One British tank driver said the exercises, which showed how “close” the NATO troops are, reassured Estonians “worried” about the neighbouring Russian bear invading.
Photos of the training exercises near the Estonian Winter Camp show troops opening fire on a simulated enemy.
In one exercise, the Estonians defended a half-mile stretch of snaking trenches against incoming French troops.
Although they used blanks, the exercises reportedly appeared lifelike as people acting as casualties were dragged through the snow-ridden trenches.
“We can see that our Estonian counterparts are worried about what’s going on with Russia. But they feel we’re here to help,” said a Lance Corporal in the King’s Royal Hussars regiment while talking to a reporter from 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’d be ready for anything.”
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During the war games, troops faced a blistering cold that reached -12C. The cold added its own difficulties for the soldiers to overcome.
The Estonians reportedly have to use pickaxes to carve out the trenches during this kind of weather. In warmer weather, they can dig the trenches in only 24 hours when the ground is soft.
During the war games, Danish Leopard 2 A7 tanks, which are set to be used in Ukraine, were sent out to protect the NATO troops.
The joint exercise comes as a new Estonian report warns of heightened security risk from Russia.
It stated that Russia’s foreign policy goals have upped the ante in terms of risks posed to the Baltic country.
The NATO troops have been in Estonia for months, training to prepare for a battle in the region.
According to the UK tank driver, their biggest challenge has been adapting to the environment.
But he confidently remarked how the men could respond to all battlefields.
A French soldier said it was vital that Estonia saw the NATO unity so that they knew they had a strong ally.
Despite the reported fear among Estonians, the country shows no signs of caving under any sort of Russian pressure.
The Estonian Prime Minister today joined dozens of other European countries in honouring President Zelensky in Brussels.
He said “it is my plea that everyone will do what they can. The price will go up with every delay”.
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