Britain to contribute 1,000 troops to force in the Baltic to reassure Russia's fearful neighbours

The Very High Readiness Joint Task Force will be on standby to deploy up to 5,000 troops within two to five days in the event of a new crisis

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Britain has confirmed it will make available 1,000 troops to a rapid-reaction force in the Baltic as Nato defence ministers gathered in Brussels to discuss the looming threat of Russia.

The creation of a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) to bolster the security of the alliance's eastern flanks was agreed when its leaders met for a summit in Wales last year.

It will be on standby to deploy up to 5,000 troops within two to five days in the event of a new crisis to provide reassurance to allies who fear they could be the next targets of aggression from neighbouring Russia.

Earleir today, it was announced that French and German leaders will make new proposals for peace in Ukraine in a join -visit to Kiev today and Moscow  tomorrow.

Cameron.jpg
The UK would provide manpower to two regional headquarters - in Poland and Romania - and to force integration units in those countries as well as the three Baltic States and Bulgaria (Getty Images)

President Francois Hollande announced at a press conference in Paris that he an Chancellor Angela Merkel would fly to Kiev this afternoon to make new proposals to the Ukrainian president. He said that they would then fly on to Moscow tomorrow for talks with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

Mr Hollande said that the Franco-German plan would be based on the “territorial integrity” of Ukraine and would  demand a lasting cease-fire. “In Ukraine, it is now war,” Mtr Hollande said. “Heavy weapons are being used. Civilians are dying.”

UK armed forces will take the rotating lead role of the force in 2017.

The RAF will also continue the deployment of four RAF Typhoon jets to upgraded airspace patrols over Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said the sustained fighting in Ukraine and Russia's continued arming and training of rebel forces was one of the greatest security challenges facing the world.

 

It was vital, he said ahead of the gathering in Brussels attended by Defence Secretary Michael Fallon, to "make clear that Nato is determined to defend all Allies against any threats from any direction".

Mr Fallon said the UK would provide manpower to two regional headquarters - in Poland and Romania - and to force integration units in those countries as well as the three Baltic States and Bulgaria.

"Nato's credibility in the face of the security challenges we face depends on everyone playing their part to implement the decisions taken at Wales last year," he said.

"The Readiness Action Plan demonstrates the Alliance's commitment to reinforce our collective defence but strong words must be backed up with firm action.

"That is why I am delighted to announce that the UK will lead the VJTF in 2017 and contribute to the Baltic Air Policing mission again in order to put the Plan into practice."

Around 3,500 military personnel are also taking part in a series of Nato exercises ths year intended to ensure a persistent alliance presence in the region while providing further financial assistance to the government in Kiev.

Additional reporting by PA

Comments