BRITAIN is sending the biggest troop deployment on the Russian border since the Cold War amid fears Russia is poised to attack, The Sun reports. Fears are growing that President Vladimir Putin could be plotting to invade the Baltic states – which broke away from Russia when the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s.
But the UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon today confirmed at NATO headquarters in Brussels that Britain would be sending tanks, drones and 800 troops to Estonia. Mr Fallon said: “I am confirming details today of our deployment as part of the forward presence in Estonia next year, a full sized British battalion with light armour, Challenger 2 tanks, Warriors vehicles, French and Danish companies in support. That deployment will begin next spring [May].
“This is Britain stepping up in NATO, beefing up the reassurance that we are able to offer. “Although we are leaving the European Union, we will be doing more to help secure the eastern and southern flanks of NATO.” He also confirmed RAF Typhoons would be deployed to the Black Sea Region as part of southern air policing next year in Romania.
“I hope this will provide reassurance for that entire region, certainly in Romania, Bulgaria, Black Sea generally and including Turkey,” he added. Other powerful NATO members will also send troops to the Baltic states and eastern Europe.
Earlier this year he threatened to destroy the shield, made up of anti-aircraft missiles, once it is fully operational. Three weeks ago Russia moved nuclear-capable Iskander-M missiles into the Kaliningrad enclave bordering Poland and Lithuania has agreed to buy 120 state-of-the art surface-to-air missiles from its neighbour Norway at the cost of €100 million (£90m).d Lithuania.
As well as going on a shopping spree for missiles – which also include Javelin mid-range anti-tank rockets – Lithuania is also calling up men into the armed services. Even Germany is considering reintroducing conscription should tensions between the West and Russia raise the prospect of war.
It emerged yesterday that more than 300 US marines would be joining the Norwegian army on its border with Russia. Norwegian Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Soreide said: “This U.S. initiative is welcome and also fits well within on-going processes in NATO to increase exercises, training and inter-operatibility within the Alliance.
“The defence of Norway is dependent on allied reinforcements, and it is crucial for Norwegian security that our allies come here to gain knowledge of how to operate in Norway and with Norwegian forces.”