Wildcat and Apache helicopters will be deployed to Estonia this year, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced.

The MoD say that the aircraft will provide aviation training opportunities to NATO allies on Estonia’s annual Exercise Spring Storm as well as to the UK-led battlegroup on NATO enhanced Forward Presence.

“The helicopter deployment will boost our contingent to around 1,000 personnel in the Baltics, making the UK the largest contributor to NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence – further reinforcing the Alliance’s deterrence and defence posture.”

The Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

“Whenever the call comes from NATO, the UK has always been ready to reach into its full spectrum of capabilities and offer its support.

That’s why we’re bolstering training in Estonia by deploying some of the world’s most advanced helicopters to the country.”

Williamson also discussed a range of issues with counterparts – noting the continued progress being made by allies on defence spending and encouraging others to follow the example set out by the UK.


  1. “noting the continued progress being made by allies on defence spending and encouraging others to follow the example set out by the UK.”

    Am I taking crazy pills or does that seem laughably hypocritical

    • I like Williamson over all other DS in recent times.

      But he is still a politician and will end up talking utter cobblers, exaggerating, and generally talking up the UK military while ignoring certain elephants in the room – Dreadnaught in core budget, minimal numbers, poor recruitment, and so on.

      If he gets more money for defence spent in the r8ght areas he is forgiven.

      • Daniele, may I ask you what you think the right aeras are? Western equipment is expensive and for what the UK spends it can either be a global Britain or you can defend Britain but not do both very well

        • Hi Ulya.

          I read your earlier posts.

          Just to say you’ll find no anti Russia sentiment from me. I respect your people and I’m well read on the Great Patriotic War and what Germany and its allies did to you. Most westerners know little of it. Not me. So my respects to your vets and war dead.

          I think while Britain remains a P5 member, G8 member, and one of the worlds biggest economies the UK should look to be global.

          I am in favour of being an air, sea and intelligence power, not a land power, given our Island status, Commonwealth links, and dependency on trade routes.

          That mean a RN built around 4 main areas.

          1 Carrier.
          2 Amphibious and the RM.
          3 SSN.
          4 The RFA.

          High end escorts in enough numbers to protect 1, 2, 4 and GIUK gap incase your Putin or future Russian leaders want to muck about with the West.

          As larger numbers of first rate escorts are unaffordable until HMG wakes up and takes defence more seriously, I would like to see the RN have more cheaper vessels for various showing the flag, chasing pirates and smugglers tasks, to save the farce of our few high end ships doing it.

          The RFA should be considerably expanded. Used as mother ships in the drug pirate operations as well as supporting the RN. This would be a big boost to Soft Power and humanitarian work too.

          Army wise a single deployable Division, pretty much as we have now, but better equipped.
          Not grandstanding in Eastern Europe with Tanks, which are few.
          More emphasis on UKSF, the RM and Paras. Power projecting, from sea and air, not occupying other nations land. Iraq. Afghanistan, ect.

          Air wise.
          1.ISTAR assets above all.
          2. P8 ASW and MPA.
          3 .Support helicopters.
          4 Transports and Tankers.

          3 and 4 obviously useful in humanitarian work too.

          I’d like to see Taranis brought into service.

          I feel with their ruinous cost more Fast Jets are unaffordable, but the enablers above more possible. Without enablers the fancy fast jets are useless.

          Intelligence wise I feel the UK is in a good place but our own satellites would be useful, lessening our dependence on the US. Again might be unaffordable.

          Cyber included in intelligence above.

          I accept that much if what we have is extremely capable and many nations don’t have these assets. But I also feel numbers have been neglected as quality over quantity is favoured.

          Both have their merits, and I’d like to see a better balance in this regard.

          • Thank you so much for taking the time for such a detailed reply Daniele, it was very interesting. You and I are complete opposites in focus for spending, I am very much a A2/AD girl. Im sure many Russian admirals would love a fleet you described but will never get the funding for, they will have to put up with being a mostly corvette navy (apart from that stupid carrier we have no need for but they insist on wasteing money on)

          • No problem Ulya.

            To be fair your Russian admirals and government are more interested in Submarines than ships, as Russia is confined by Geography. Black Sea. Japan, Korea. Baltic. Norway, Iceland.

            Russia is also a land Power, and nuclear power. Your Navy is bottom of the pile I feel.

            May I ask what your views are of President Putin, the situation in Ukraine, and the incidents in Salisbury?

          • Those are the hard questions Daniele.
            I voted for Putin, although I dont agree with some of his policies they are more domestic issues.
            Ukraine, that is the red line the west crossed, not just for the government, but many Russians, so Putins actions have been very measured so not to escalate the conflict but to be seen to do something. I will not bother playing the blame game as we could both make a list of each others sins, but I often wonder how things would be different if there was no coup and Ukrainians waited 4 months I think it was for elections. I dont know how the problem can be fixed, there is no trust, no good will between both sides anymore, and I really dont think many east and west want it fixed.
            Salisbury, there is to much propaganda by both our countries media so I dont know what to believe. If Russians are involved they should be punished, I care nothing about the traitor, he should never of been released from prison but I dont agree with chemical weapon being used in your country. If the UK has real evidence against Russians then I hope they bring it here and make a legal case as Russia will never send its citizens to the UK. I know the UK will never accept it being done in Russia, but maybe if done by a panel of 3rd party judges and both sides agree the verdict is legally binding? I personally would like to know the truth, I might not like the end result but this incident should never of happened

          • I learned English at school, but I also have 2 Kiwi friends I meet about 8 years ago when I worked in the UAE, both school teaches, both very unforgiving when my English gets lazy, helps that my partner and I have just spent the last 4 weeks in NZ and Australia. Give it a few weeks of me speaking no English and you will notice a difference

  2. Hi All it was nice to read your exchange very civilised. My only reply would be to Ulya , Yes traitors take there chances. But the use of a nerve agent was very bad form I agree.

  3. Good that we’re putting some Apaches and Wildcats in there to support the battle group, it needs to be a rounded, all-arms force, an infantry battalion with some CSS is not really a deterrent. I read somewhere – on here maybe? – that NATO had asked the UK to provide a second battle group for Estonia and we had agreed. But haven’t seen any moves in that direction since.

    With lake Piepus forming a good part of the eastern border with Russia, the only two road routes into the country are in the north and south, both of which have a high proportion of ethnic Russian inhabitants so are a bit open to attempted coercion, as per eastern Ukraine. It does need a NATO battlegroup in each location as a forward tripwire, supporting the Estonian brigade. I think the French are doing similarly in Latvia. It is good that NATO is stepping up to the mark, Putin’s actions elsewhere and his combination of cyber, financial, media and ethnic stirring-up in these two countries have galvanised NATO to show that it won’t be pushed around.

  4. It’s absolutely crazy how people actually think Russia will invade European country’s! Russia doesn’t have the money or balls to go to war with a NATO nation!. It’s suicide for Russia, but I supose the powers that be are wanting us to think Russia’s a big threat so we keep spending money on our defences so it’s a good thing and stupid at the same time.

    • There are many ways of ‘invading’ territory Cam. Russia claims it didn’t invade eastern Ukraine or Crimea, yet we see ‘the little green men’ on the ground seizing the territory, the Russian flags flying over it and Russia effectively annexing these regions.

      Their asymmetrical warfare trick is to stir-up the Russian-speaking element of the population, by propaganda, disinformation, funding of Russian nationalist political parties, promotion of ethnic Russian alternative media and the injection of large sums of money to establish an armed 5th column, then to foment insurrection, led and supported by regular Russian special forces troops and intelligence operatives.

      It is a successful route to destabilise a country and seize territory, as these two adventures show.

      Estonia has a 29% Russian minority, Latvia a 27% one. They are mainly the descendants of the Russians settled there from 1944, in a deliberate policy of Russification, replacing Estonian and Latvian opponents who were bumped off or shipped off to the gulags, both in large numbers. They are a majority in some of the border regions, particularly Narva in north-east Estonia – which generates 90% of the country’s electricity from shale oil, and which territory Russia claims – and the south-east of Latvia, adjacent to the Russian and Belarus borders, including the main towns of Daugavpols and Rezekne. In these areas, you have a pretty identical ethnic situation to eastern Ukraine, with rapacious Putin seeking to extend Russian hegemony over its ‘near abroad’.

      There has been considerable Russian activity against both countries, following their standard pattern of cyber warfare, media propaganda, nurturing an ethnic, nationalist political party hostile to the state and so on. All that stops Putin going to the next page of the land-grab plan is not the fact that both countries are NATO members; that is neither here nor there in his asymmetric warfare scheme, as the action on the ground would ostensibly be that of local Russian speakers, rather than the Russian state itself, as per Ukraine, Crimea.

      What does stop it is Estonian and Latvian forces being organised and equipped to fight – and backed by the presence of NATO battlegroups on the ground and fighter aircraft on roulement in Estonia and Lithuania at all times. Hence any attempt to suborn and occupy these border territories would be met by an armed NATO response.

      None of this is of the West’s making or NATO’s, the finger of blame points squarely at the nation intent on breaking international law to seize someone else’s territory.

      The Russian leadership certainly have a large chip on both shoulders about the fact that all their former satellites in eastern Europe promptly applied to join both NATO and the EU the moment they were independent. The Russian propaganda meme is that NATO advanced to the Russian border. The reality is that all those in the borderlands, all 6 satellites, after 45 years experience of Soviet Russian repression, exploitation and economic failure, turned westwards to be part of a non-Russian sphere. That is nobody’s fault but Russia.

  5. R Cummings has summed it all up very well. Good post.
    I would just add do Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania all spend in excess of 2% GDP to defence ratio as NATO standard?
    They could do more to bolster their own defences although I think NATOs move eastward onto the Russian border was perhaps unwise as it only encourages Putin’s rhetoric of Russia surrounded.
    The Baltic States would be wise investing in Landceptor, Grippen and Apache as well as limited numbers of capable battle tanks like the Challenger 2 or M1A2 so they can at least offer capable resistance to Russia for a limited time period.


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