British Army on standby as fears grow Putin will send ‘weaponised migrants’ into EU | UK | News

British forces are on standby in Estonia amid fears that Moscow is poised to send more “weaponised migrants” into Eastern Europe. Of particular use, sources say, are the British Army’s surveillance tools, which it routinely deploys as part of its Nato operations on Europe’s eastern flanks.

These include the MSTAR Man-portable Surveillance and Target Acquisition Radar and the advanced surveillance and target acquisition suite found on Challenger 2 tanks. The latest Baltic fears follow Finland’s decision to seal off its northern border after Russian guards allegedly facilitated the arrival of 900, mainly undocumented, asylum seekers as part of a hybrid economic warfare operation mounted by Vladimir Putin.

Poland has experienced a similar issue on its border with Belarus where, since mid-2021, tens of thousands of migrants and asylum seekers – mainly from the Middle East, Asia and Africa – have been trying to cross with assistance of the Belarusian authorities.

In that case, 150 Royal Engineers helped Polish counterparts to strengthen the physical border with Belarus. “Based on what we know so far, migrants do not make it to the EU borders independently and without support and guidance,” said Estonian Interior Minister Lauri Läänemets last week.

“What we see is an orchestrated migration operation which could not possibly take place without the involvement of Russian authorities and special services.”

As the crisis mounts, British military commanders in Estonia have been briefed to be ready to support operations along the country’s 207- mile long border with Russia, which currently has six official crossing points.

Under Operation Cabrit, Britain deploys around 1,000 soldiers to the Baltic state as part of an ongoing commitment to bolster Nato’s enhanced forwards presence – known as Forward Land Forces (FLF).

The battlegroup is currently built with members of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers and Challenger 2 tanks belonging to the Queen’s Own Royal Hussars. “The atmosphere in Tallinn is quietly tense, NATO is watching and patrols along the border have already increased , we are expecting we will be called on to support increased surveillance,” said a senior army source last night.

“That means a lot of the troops face being deployed over Christmas monitoring the border.” William Freer, of the Council of Geostrategy think tank, said: “Estonia is rightly concerned. Russia is trying to use every tool it has available to sow as much disruption in the West as possible.

“It makes perfect sense for there to be a pan-Nato response. It also shows the flexibility and adaptability of Nato.”

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