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German Leopard 2 Tanks Arrive in Estonia to Participate in NATO Drills

© AP Photo / Mindaugas KulbisGerman army soldiers load a Leopard 2 tank onto a truck at the Sestokai railway station some 175 kms (109 miles) west of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017.
German army soldiers load a Leopard 2 tank onto a truck at the Sestokai railway station some 175 kms (109 miles) west of the capital Vilnius, Lithuania, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017. - Sputnik International
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A total of eight Leopard 2 tanks of the German armed forces, or Bundeswehr, arrived in Estonia to take part in the major NATO international drill Spring Storm 2017, a spokeswoman for the Estonian Defense Forces, Lt. Kristel Maasikmets, said Friday.

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TALLINN (Sputnik) The Spring Storm drills kicked off in Estonia on May 8 and will last through May 26 with almost 9,000 participants from Estonia and 13 allied and partner countries.

"The eight Leopard 2 tanks of the German armed forces arrived on Thursday evening. Initially they will be used only as transport vehicles, while at the next stage of the drills, which will start on May 18, the tanks will take part in combat operations," Maasikmets told the ERR broadcaster.

Over 800 troops from the United Kingdom, who are part of the battalion deployed in Estonia, and about 300 French troops will participate in the drills. Germany sent about 400 troops, who will join soldiers from Canada, Finland, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Ukraine and the United States to participate in the exercise.

US M1A2 Abrams tanks, the UK Challenger 2 and the French Leclerc will be used in the drills, alongside infantry combat vehicles of allies and the Estonian armed forces.

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