British troops to bolster Ukraine’s neighbour as Russian invasion ‘imminent’

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At present, Britain has 830 troops, tanks, armoured fighting vehicles, self-propelled artillery, engineers and air-defence and intelligence assets in Estonia where it is leading a 1,200 strong battle group. According to the reports, around 300 French troops are also set to be a part of the battle group.

The NATO personnel presence could possibly be increased in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland after its member states held talks over expanding their presence in the region.

Citing a defence source, the Times reported that the UK is looking at bolstering the existing missions with ‘hundreds’ of combat-ready soldiers that would be able to deploy at short notice.

The source told the publication: “They [NATO] have asked the question around boosting those [enhanced Forward Presence missions] and the NATO mission in the Baltics. Countries are thinking about what they could do.”

The source added: “If there was a NATO ally about to have Russian troops knocking on their doorstep then they [the force] would be there quickly.”

Currently, there are also 140 British troops in Poland as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence mission.

The comments come as Tobias Ellwood, chair of the House of Commons Defence Select Committee, appeared on BBC Newsnight to discuss the threat of an “imminent” Russian invasion.

He said: “I think we’re going to see the endgame. We’re going to see Russia walk out of those talks [with the US] and claim they have failed.

“Putin has been running this show ever since NATO and the West said we were not going to support Ukraine militarily.”

He added: “Everything is ready to go. An attack is now imminent and the West is looking very, very weak indeed.”

Last week, Estonia’s Prime Minister, Kaja Kallas said that the country was in talks with its allies to increase the presence in the country “to act as a deterrent” to Russia.

She said: “The Baltic states are a NATO peninsula and therefore we have our worries.”

With 127,000 troops on Ukraine’s border, Russia might plan a “multi-axis” invasion that may come from the sea as well as on land and in the air, experts have warned.

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Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary-general, confirmed to CNN yesterday that it was considering increasing deployments of troops in the eastern part of the alliance.

He said that such a move would “send a very clear message to Russia”.

Sergei Ryabkov, the Russian deputy foreign minister, said on Wednesday that Moscow has no intention of “attacking, staging an offensive on, or invading Ukraine”.

However, the comments failed to make any impact on the rising tensions.

On Wednesday, the White House warned that any attack on Ukraine by Russia would trigger a “swift, severe” response from NATO.

US President Joe Biden said he believed that Putin would test western leaders and that the response would depend on the scale of Moscow’s actions.

He said: “It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and what to not do.

“But if they actually do what they’re capable of doing . . . it is going to be a disaster for Russia.”

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