- James Cleverly to meet UK military personnel leading NATO’s mission in Estonia protecting its ‘Eastern Flank’ by land, sea and air.
- He will meet members of the new Estonian Government and visit a school for Ukrainian refugee children.
- Foreign Secretary will then visit Norway for a meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers with support to Ukraine, and Sweden’s accession high on the agenda.
The UK’s commitment to NATO and the defence of its ‘Eastern Flank’ will be underlined as the Foreign Secretary arrives in Tallinn to begin a two-leg visit to Northern Europe.
In his first trip as Foreign Secretary to Estonia, James Cleverly will meet members of the new Estonian Government to highlight the UK’s role as a steadfast security partner, committed to deterring aggression and defending all NATO Allies in times of crisis and conflict.
As a demonstration of that partnership, the Foreign Secretary will visit the Royal Navy’s amphibious flagship, HMS Albion, currently in the Baltic Sea for two months taking part in military exercises with allies in the region, to hear from British military personnel across all three British Armed Forces, including some of the 850 UK troops currently stationed in the country as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence.
He will also underline the UK’s strong desire for continued close cooperation on issues of importance to European security, including sustained support for Ukraine and working together to tackle illegal migration.
Cleverly will then visit Oslo for an informal meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers to call for Sweden’s swift accession to the Alliance ahead of the Vilnius Summit in July. Both Norway and Estonia are also members of the UK-led Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), the group of like-minded, northern European nations protecting democracy, security and stability in the region, complementing wider NATO activity.
Ahead of his visit, Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said:
In Estonia, across land, sea and air, British personnel are on the frontline protecting Europe’s security and deterring Russia’s cruel and catastrophic aggression.
As NATO Allies, we are stronger than ever before – unified against hostility and in defence of democracy and freedom.
Not only is our military leading the way, our diplomats are working across the globe to galvanise our partners and strengthen international efforts to ensure Putin faces the consequences of his barbaric actions.
Cleverly will see first-hand how British forces personnel are leading NATO’s land and air missions to Estonia, helping to protect it on land, at sea and in the air.
At Amari air base, the Foreign Secretary will witness RAF Typhoons taking to the skies as the current lead nation for Baltic air policing out of Estonia, and see British Army Apache and Wildcat helicopters supporting multi-national exercises.
Cleverly will speak to Estonian tech company founders to promote economic ties between the UK and Estonia. He will review progress on the UK-Estonia tech partnership, which aims to develop new technologies in areas such as digital health and sustainable energy as well as creating jobs and boosting economic growth.
The Foreign Secretary will also pay a visit to a school set up in Estonia for children of Ukrainian refugees, who have fled the conflict in their country. Estonia has taken in more than 46,000 Ukrainians since the war began, offering them a safe haven away from Russian bombardment.
On Wednesday, the Foreign Secretary will visit Oslo for an informal meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers, where he will seek to shore up political and military support to Ukraine.
He will also use the gathering as part of a continued push for Sweden’s swift accession to NATO ahead of the Vilnius Summit in July, telling allies that its full membership will significantly boost NATO’s collective strength.
The Foreign Secretary’s trip follows visits to Moldova, Georgia and Kazakhstan in March, three more countries facing Russia’s malign activity on their doorstep.