Members of the Yorkshire Regiment’s 1st Battalion are to be deployed to Estonia later this year as part of a NATO presence in a bid to deter Russian aggression.
More than 800 British personnel are currently stationed in the Baltic state as part of NATO’s enhanced forward presence (eFP) alongside Danish, Canadian and Estonian forces.
Established to deter potential aggression from the Kremlin, the British Army is currently providing the bulk of the numbers through the armoured infantry task force of the 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh.
From July, the 1st Battalion of The Yorkshire Regiment, which draws its recruits from Bradford and the region, is to take over from The Royal Welsh.
The armoured infantry battalion is usually based at Battlesbury Barracks in Warminster.
But from the beginning of July they will be based around 80 miles from the Russian border in the town of Tapa, as part of Operation Cabrit.
Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said in Estonia it is evident that the UK is “taking the lead on the global stage and crucial role in keeping us safe and protecting our national interests from those who wish to harm us”.
“We live in a world where the threats and dangers we face to our way of life are constantly evolving and increasingly challenging,” he said.
“We have to be deeply committed to counter the intensifying aggression aimed at Britain and our allies from the Russian State.
“This threat is real and it is on our doorstep. We should not underestimate the damage Russia could do.”
The Senior Major of The Royal Welsh, Darren Hughes, when asked whether the threat from Russia is a credible one, said: “In as much as is Russia a potent military force? Absolutely.
“They are a very professional organisation. Are they a threat to us day to day? No, they are not,” he told the Press Association.
“Plus are we showing the fact that should situations worsen, then an armoured infantry battlegroup is a very credible fighting force.”
He added: “We are here to show to any potential aggressor that as a force, NATO is very capable and is prepared to deal with a whole raft of threats.”
Major Hughes said as far as his soldiers are concerned, they are just doing “really good training in a European country with a partner nation”.
“It is not an issue which weighs on us every day, because the threat is not manifested in that way. All we are doing is showing a NATO approach to a slightly changed political situation,” he added.
At the Warsaw Summit in July 2016 the creation of the eFP was decided amid concerns about Russian activity after its annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. The eFP is a deployment of defensive, but combat-capable forces in countries including Estonia and Poland.