Political Risk Analysis - NATO Troop Deployment A Significant Show Of Commitment - JUNE 2017

BMI View: Recent NATO deployments in Estonia underscore the group ' s commitment to the security of its eastern flank, which should help to deter physical threats posed by neighbouring Russia. Domestically, the new government's tax initiatives are unlikely to alter Estonia's attractiveness to foreign investors or fiscal sustainability.

After an initial contingent of British troops had arrived, March saw further NATO deployments to Estonia, arriving through Amari air force base where they were welcomed by the newly installed Minister of Defence, Margus Tsahkra. The initial contingent of 120 military personnel will set up a UK headquarters prior to the arrival of the remainder of the battle group in the coming weeks which will swell to around 800 soldiers. The UK led battlegroup is but one of a series of such NATO deployments on the alliance's eastern flank which together make up NATO's Very High Readiness Joint Task Force. Deployments are also in progress in Latvia, Lithuania and Poland.

It is hoped such moves underscore NATO commitment to European sovereign states in the face of emboldened neighbour Russia. As expressed by recently elected President Kaljulaid in her interview with The Washington Post the short term threat posed by Russia to any NATO member State is likely to be unconventional. A cyber-attack or disruption to power supply (Estonia is connected to the Russian energy grid rather than a European one) is much more likely than a physical attack on Estonian sovereign territory. The troop deployment is a signal to Russia of the seriousness with which it treats any threat to any member as well as the obvious intent to deter physical threats with such a show of force.

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