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Great Britain

Boris Johnson arrives in Estonia to serve Christmas lunch to British troops to mark their sacrifices over festive period

BORIS Johnson has arrived in Estonia to serve Christmas lunch to British troops to mark their sacrifices over the festive period.

The PM will also eat with soldiers from the Queen’s Royal Hussars, who are guarding the Baltic state under threat from Russia.

The Prime Minister will thank the servicemen and women for their work as he joins them for lunch at the Tapa military base near the capital Tallinn.

The base is home to 850 British troops from the Queen's Royal Hussars who lead the Nato battlegroup along with personnel from Estonia, France and Denmark.

It is the UK's largest operational deployment in Europe and forms part of Nato's Enhanced Forward Presence in the region to ensure the collective defence principle can be upheld on the Alliance's eastern border.

Mr Johnson will meet troops from across the UK and tour the base, and he is also expected to hold a bilateral meeting with Estonian prime minister Juri Ratas.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Mr Johnson said: "The men and women of our Armed Forces serve tirelessly every single day to keep us all safe.

"While we enjoy Christmas with family and friends, they will be working hard across the world to defend Britain and our allies. And today in Estonia I will meet troops working on the front line to guarantee Britain's security.

"This year our military efforts in Estonia have been immense.

"British troops form the largest part of Nato's mission in the country, RAF Typhoons working in Estonia have scrambled to intercept Russian aircraft straying into Nato airspace, and British Apache and Wildcat attack helicopters have bolstered Nato efforts to enhance our security, reassure our allies and deter our adversaries.

"So at this time of year we should all take a moment to be thankful for the sacrifices made by our troops, many of whom will be spending Christmas on our deployments and bases around the world - be it the Baltics, Ukraine or Afghanistan - and those in Britain too."

The trip to the Tapa military base near Tallinn will re-invoke a long-held tradition of the nation’s leaders marking service personnel’s sacrifices over the festive period. But it lapsed in recent years, while the Brexit crisis raged.

Ahead of the trip, Mr Johnson said: “The men and women of our Armed Forces serve tirelessly every single day to keep us all safe.

“While we enjoy Christmas with family and friends, they will be working hard across the world to defend Britain and our allies.

“So at this time of year we should all take a moment to be thankful for the sacrifices made by our troops, many of whom will be spending Christmas on our deployments and bases around the world – be it the Baltics, Ukraine or Afghanistan – and those in Britain too.”

The day trip comes as Defence Secretary Ben Wallace raised the prospect of a new defence overhaul as he warns forces chiefs they must ”cut our cloth to match our ambition”.

It has emerged that the MoD faces a £7billion black hole in its 10-year-plan to equip the armed forces.

Mr Wallace told the BBC’s Political Thinking podcast: “The best thing I can do for the men and women of the Armed Forces is to make sure that we cut our cloth to match our ambition, manage expectations and say to the chiefs that your appetite has to match your stomach.

“By doing so we build our credibility with the Treasury and Number 10 to say ‘Look, we have sorted out our house, when you give us some more money we will deliver on what we’re trying to do and there will be no tricks'’’.

RAF Typhoon fighter jets scrambled from Ämari Air Base in Estonia to intercept Russian military aircraft

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