27 July 2023

RAF jets are ‘sound of freedom’ in Estonia amid Russian aggression – commander

27 July 2023

RAF jets intercepting unauthorised aircraft in the Baltic Sea are the “sound of freedom” for Estonians sharing a border with Russia, the Amari Air Base deputy commander has said.

British military personnel will leave the eastern European nation next week as their time policing the Baltic Sea as part of Nato’s Operation Azotize mission comes to an end.

They will be replaced by the Spanish Air Force, who will assist the Estonians in keeping their skies safe from Russian aggressors amid the war in Ukraine.

Since their arrival in March, the British typhoon jets have intercepted 50 Russian aircraft.

Estonia, which borders Russia, does not have its own flying air force, making its alliance with Nato crucial to the country’s safety in the geopolitical context of the war.

Commanding officer Scottie McColl, who leads the RAF’s 140 Expeditionary Air Wing at the Amari base, said: “There is no doubt that Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine has changed the context in this part of the world.

“When you speak to Estonians you can see how important it is for them for us to be here.

“I’ve spoken to an Estonian commander who described the noise of our jets as the sound of freedom.”

Major Tanel Rattiste, deputy commander at the Amari Air Base, near Tallinn, told the PA news agency that Nato provides freedom because “each time when we have a Russian Federation aircraft closing in to our borders, not only Estonia but the Baltics, then all of the time Nato – and this time the UK jets – are scrambled and they will go and intercept those flights.

“The Russian Federation knows that we know where they are and what they are doing and that we are ready.

“We are really appreciating that the Royal Air Force is contributing to this enhanced air policing mission. They have been here several times before and each time it has been a pleasure for us.

“All of our skies are relying on allies from Nato and from the partners in the UK.”

The Estonian military has backed Ukraine following the invasion last year, with Ukrainian flags placed alongside Estonia’s badge on many of their uniforms.

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