Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles Armored wheeled vehicles, tanks and artillery firepower – these are just some examples of the military equipment that NATO has stockpiled here in Eastern Europe. About four thousand soldiers are stationed here, in Tapa, Estonia – some 70 miles away from the Russian border. They're here to practice and potentially defend the NATO member state, should its neighbor turn its aggression this way. In 2016, NATO members agreed to step up their presence in Eastern Europe by deploying four multinational battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. The battlegroups are led by the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany and the United States respectively. This decision came following Russia's invasion of Georgia in 2008 and illegal annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014. NATO says it had no forces in the eastern part of its alliance before then. We do not – and we will not – recognize Russia's illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea. What we see is more unpredictability, more uncertainties, and we also see a more assertive Russia, which has substantially built up its military capabilities, modernized its armed forces, trained its forces, and tripled defense spending over – or since 2000. Now, NATO is once again beefing up its presence in this part of the world, as Russia deployed more than 100,000 troops in and around Ukraine. In March, the defense alliance announced it was sending new battlegroups to Eastern Europe, deploying troops to Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. This means that we will have eight multinational NATO battle groups all along the eastern flank, from the Baltic to the Black Sea. The U.K. leads NATO's battlegroup here in Tapa and has contributed the bulk of the troop surge – with roughly 1,600 of its soldiers on the ground. There are also 220 Danish troops who arrived in March, along with armored vehicles, a sniper section and logistical support. Then there's a French armored squadron here, comprising around 200 soldiers. And of course, there are almost 2,000 local Estonian troops to round up the multinational battlegroup. We never rest. We practice, we exercise and we rehearse. We prepare ourself. And that's all what, what I think we have to do. So it's exercising, planning, training. At this military base, the war in Ukraine is at the top of everyone's minds. Tapa is about 800 miles to the north of Kyiv. But Russia is much closer – about 70 miles away. It's also near Belarus, which hosted Russian forces in its invasion of Ukraine - and borders NATO members Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. It doesn't help that these countries have a turbulent past with Russia. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are known as the Baltic countries, a reference to their shared shoreline with the Baltic Sea. They were under Soviet rule from the end of the second World War and regained independence in 1991, when the USSR ceased to exist. Today, the Baltics are members of NATO and the European Union. We definitely cannot rule out the attack against NATO. The Baltics don't really stand out as individuals. Because what is his end aim is to demolish NATO. And you achieve this by demonstrating that at least we think in his head, that the Article Five doesn't function as it should function. Article Five is at the heart of NATO's founding treaty. It commits NATO members to protecting each other if one of its member countries is attacked. But it's only been invoked once to date – after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Once he succeeds, in demonstrating this, then you would have one, then you achieve your goal without logically the war. But I think all the indications coming from all the largest NATO allies, NATO, as a whole from NATO Secretary General, has been steadfast: there has been no ambivalence in the message. We are actually feeling quite confident. But clearly, the hope or confidence or you know, crossing our fingers has never been our strategy. On top of more troops and equipment on the ground, NATO has also reinforced its surveillance of Estonian airspace. The Belgian Air Force was due to leave Amari's airbase, in western Estonia, but given heightened tensions with Russia, they were told to stay longer. And the French Air Force, which was due to replace the Belgians on the ground, arrived earlier – building up much stronger air policing in the region. NATO also has a cyber defense center based here in Estonia. NATO's founding treaty only referred to traditional military attacks on land, sea or in the air – but in recent years has been amended to also include cyberspace. This means a serious cyberattack on one NATO ally is seen as an attack against all allies. What's going on in Ukraine is a catastrophe. It's clearly a crime by Russian Federation against Ukraine, And it's a crime that should be punished. There is no analytical basis for us to assume that they wouldn't try it against someone else. their intent is extremely clear, there is no ambivalence there. What they want to achieve is to demolish NATO. We have heard how Russia says that these troops, the military bases are threatening them. My message is no, they are here because of the threat coming from Russia. And they are integrated into our defense, to defend our territories. It's not building a platform, from where we are going to advance towards Russia. So now rest for these troops. Let's stay on high alert? Maneuvers, push ups, shootings all the time. It's not up to us, but it's up to Putin if they want to test us. One thing is certain: Russia's invasion of Ukraine has forced new life into NATO, an alliance that has had its fair share of scrutiny – even from its members. But, as the prime minister of Estonia's southern neighbor Latvia told me earlier , times have changed. It seems that a new Iron Curtain is probably going to be descending in Europe. At best, and this is the best case scenario, there could be a long term standoff between Western democracy and the rule of law, and Putin's Russia with the rule of might and the rule of force.