British troops in Polish exercise

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The Independent Online
A COMPANY of British troops is expected to join the Polish army in battle exercises on Polish soil next summer, the first time since the Second World War that there has been active military co-operation with the former Eastern Bloc, it was revealed yesterday, writes Christopher Bellamy.

Since the end of the Cold War, military contacts have blossomed, with arms control inspections and exchanges of staff officers.

Troops will be limited in order not to upset the Russians, who are concerned about what they perceive as the eastward expansion of Nato. A British military source said: 'It is quite clear that a company strength (120 men) poses no threat to anyone'.

In September, Malcolm Rifkind, the Secretary of State for Defence, held talks with Russia about military links, but stopped short of promising that British troops would join the Russians on exercises.

The news came as Nato defence ministers met in Brussels to discuss ways to develop military links with their former adversaries. Ministry of Defence sources stressed the joint British-Polish exercises were a bilateral proposal and not part of the Nato scheme called 'Partnership for Peace'.