Estonia ‘Seriously’ Discussing Sending Troops to Ukraine

The idea would be for Estonian troops to take over non-combat roles in western Ukraine to free up Ukrainian soldiers to go to the front

NATO member Estonia is “seriously” discussing the possibility of sending troops to western Ukraine to fill non-combat roles to free up Ukrainian soldiers so they can be sent to fight on the front, Breaking Defense has reported.

Such a deployment would mark a significant escalation of NATO involvement in the war. While the Estonian troops wouldn’t be sent for combat, they would be directly and publicly joining the war effort, making them potential targets for Russia, risking a direct Russia-NATO clash, which could quickly turn nuclear.

Madis Roll, the Estonian president’s national security advisor, said on May 10 that Estonia, a country with an active duty military of about 7,000 troops, would prefer to make such a move as part of a full NATO mission “to show broader combined strength and determination.” But he wouldn’t rule out the deployment as part of a smaller coalition.

“We should be looking at all the possibilities. We shouldn’t have our minds restricted as to what we can do,” said Roll, echoing French President Emmanuel Macron, who has repeatedly said sending NATO ground troops to Ukraine shouldn’t be ruled out. After the Breaking Defense report was initially published, Roll clarified that the idea of deploying troops was not something pending with the prime minister but that the talks were “ongoing” and not “dead.”

On Tuesday, Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur downplayed Roll’s comments and said the talks on a troop deployment weren’t going anywhere. “There is nothing new here. When France came up with the idea of considering whether Europe and the allies could do more, it has been floated in various discussions, but it has not gone anywhere because at the moment there is no clear understanding among the allies of what it adds,” Pevkur said.

Lithuania, another Baltic NATO state with a very small military, is also open to the idea of sending troops to Ukraine. Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte told Financial Times last week that her country was prepared to deploy troops as part of a training mission.

All the recent talk about NATO troops potentially deploying to Ukraine has highlighted the fact that there are already a small number of NATO special operations forces in the country. The Discord leaks revealed last year that, as of March 2023, there were 97 NATO special operations soldiers in Ukraine, including troops from the US, the UK, Latvia, and France.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.