Britain, Ukraine and Poles make pact on defence

A trilateral defence arrangement between Britain, Poland and Ukraine has been unveiled, as 3,500 British troops in Poland carry out the largest armoured exercise since the Gulf War.

They will conduct manoeuvres in the wide spaces of a former member of the Warsaw Pact which Nato spent 35 years preparing to fight.

The British Army is delighted with the new training facilities among the rolling woodland and lakes of Prussia, which dwarf anything available in Britain or Germany, where it is increasingly cramped. But the deal has a greater importance.

The arrangement bridges the gap between Poland - a leading candidate for Nato membership - and Ukraine, which has until recently opposed expansion of Nato and is unlikely to join. It also gives Britain a foothold in eastern Europe.

Poland and Ukraine have a joint population of more than 80 million - the same as Germany - and, at 450,000-strong, Ukraine's armed forces are Europe's largest after Russia's and Turkey's.

Ukraine's Defence Minister, Lieutenant General Oleksandr Kuzmuk, signalled that Ukraine's opposition to Nato's eastward expansion had softened. "It is the sovereign right of any country to decide to which bloc they want to belong to. For us, it is the will of our president, parliament and the Ukrainian nation that we are a non-bloc nation," he said. "But we are for cooperation with any of our neighbours, east, north or west." The Polish Defence Minister, Stanislaw Dobrzanski, stressed that Poland's desire to be in Nato was not aimed "to be against anyone or threaten anyone".

Ukraine has also been concerned that the extension of the Nato nuclear guarantee to Poland might mean nuclear weapons being based on Polish soil, although with modern nuclear weapons that would not be necessary. "Ukraine was the third nuclear state in size [after the US and Russia] but it has relinquished its nuclear status," Lt Gen Kuzmuk, a former Soviet tank brigade commander, said. "So you must take account of Ukraine's view that nuclear weapons should remain where they are now."

Even more extraordinary than the reconciliation between former Nato and Warsaw Pact enemies is the warming of relations between Poland and Ukraine, after centuries of territorial disputes and bloodshed.

The Ukrainian and Polish ministers were joined by the British armed forces minister, Nicholas Soames. They confirmed they had agreed a trilateral defence arrangement which would include the use of each other's training facilities and a joint parachute exercise. A joint Polish-Ukrainian battalion is to be set up to specialise in peacekeeping operations.

The most radical innovation may be the British use of air-to-ground ranges in Ukraine.

The British were delighted with the 400-square-kilometre training area. After nine days of training by the individual armoured battle groups (about 1,000 troops each), they combine for a four-day rehearsal of full armoured warfare.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Mock the tweet: Ukip leader Nigel Farage and comedian Frankie Boyle
peopleIt was a polite exchange of words, as you can imagine
Life and Style
fashion
Life and Style
Britons buy more than 30 million handsets each year, keeping them for an average of 18 months
tech
Arts and Entertainment
TV Presenters Ant McPartlin and Dec Donnelly. Winners of the 'Entertainment Programme' award for 'Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway'
musicAnt and Dec confirmed as hosts of next year's Brit Awards
Arts and Entertainment
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
film
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Humanities and Economics Teacher - January 2015 - Malaysia

£18000 - £20400 per annum + Accommodation, Flights, Medical Cover: Randstad Ed...

SEN Teaching Assistant needed for long term assignment

£45 - £55 per day: Randstad Education Preston: We are looking for an experienc...

Primary Teachers Required in King's Lynn

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teachers needed in King's Ly...

Primary Teachers needed in Ely

Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary Teacher needed in the Ely ar...

Day In a Page

Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes
Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs:

Independent writers remember their Saturday jobs

"I have never regarded anything I have done in "the media" as a proper job"
Lyricist Richard Thomas shares his 11-step recipe for creating a hit West End musical

11-step recipe for creating a West End hit

Richard Thomas, the lyricist behind the Jerry Springer and Anna Nicole Smith operas, explains how Bob Dylan, 'Breaking Bad' and even Noam Chomsky inspired his songbook for the new musical 'Made in Dagenham'
Tonke Dragt's The Letter for the King has finally been translated into English ... 50 years on

Buried treasure: The Letter for the King

The coming-of-age tale about a boy and his mission to save a mythical kingdom has sold a million copies since it was written by an eccentric Dutchwoman in 1962. Yet until last year, no one had read it in English
Can instilling a sense of entrepreneurship in pupils have a positive effect on their learning?

The school that means business

Richard Garner heads to Lancashire, where developing the 'dragons' of the future is also helping one community academy to achieve its educational goals
10 best tablets

The world in your pocket: 10 best tablets

They’re thin, they’re light, you can use them for work on the move or keeping entertained
Lutz Pfannenstiel: The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents

Lutz Pfannenstiel interview

The goalkeeper who gave up Bayern Munich for the Crazy Gang, Bradford and a whirlwind trawl across continents
Pete Jenson: Popular Jürgen Klopp can reignite Borussia Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern Munich

Pete Jenson's a Different League

Popular Klopp can reignite Dortmund’s season with visit to Bayern
John Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

Cantlie video proves that Isis expects victory in Kobani

The use of the British hostage demonstrates once again the militants' skill and originality in conducting a propaganda war, says Patrick Cockburn
The killer instinct: The man who helps students spot potential murderers

The killer instinct

Phil Chalmers travels the US warning students how to spot possible future murderers, but can his contentious methods really stop the bloodshed?
Clothing the gap: A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd

Clothing the gap

A new exhibition celebrates women who stood apart from the fashion herd
Fall of the Berlin Wall: Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain

The Fall of the Berlin Wall

Goodbye to all that - the lost world beyond the Iron Curtain