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French fighter jets and troops bolster NATO air policing in Estonia


French fighter jets joined a NATO mission to secure Estonia's skies, as the bloc bolsters its defensive positions following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Mirage 2000-5F fighter jets flew over Estonia, as part of NATO'S enhanced Air Policing (eAP) on Thursday (March 17), a video released by the French army showed.

France also sent troops from the 7th Battalion of Alpine Hunters, in response to Estonia's request for soldiers specialized in difficult terrain.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, NATO allies have sent additional ships, planes, and troops to their territory in eastern and south-eastern Europe to shore up the alliance's deterrence and defense posture.

"Here we are giving reassurance to Estonia, in a defensive, preventive and especially not aggressive mode," the head of the French contingent, Colonel Eric Mauger, said.

The French battalion joins Danish and British troops equipped with armored vehicles in the Tapa military base.

Article 5 of NATO means that any armed attack against one or more allied countries in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against the whole alliance, and consequently, member countries agree that if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in the exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense, will assist the party or parties so attacked.

NATO has sent more than 20,000 anti-tank and other weapons to Ukraine since the Russian invasion started on Feb. 24. But the alliance has refused to send any troops and impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine to avoid a larger conflict.

United States President Joe Biden has repeatedly said that the United States will not send forces into Ukraine, but will defend "every inch" of NATO territory.

Published : March 19, 2022