UK unveils ‘major military offer’ to NATO as a ‘clear message’ to Moscow
Downing Street has announced its “biggest possible offer” to NATO in a statement late on Saturday. The UK’s prime minister is weighting this “major military deployment” needed to deter an allegedly “rising Russian aggression” in Europe in general and in Ukraine in particular
“This package would send a clear message to the Kremlin – we will not tolerate their destabilising activity, and we will always stand with our NATO allies in the face Russian hostility,” Johnson stated.
“I have ordered our Armed Forces to prepare to deploy across Europe next week, ensuring we are able to support our NATO allies on land, at sea and in the air.”
Should Russian President Vladimir Putin choose “a path of bloodshed and destruction,” Johnson went on, it would result in a “tragedy” for the whole European continent.
The UK’s potential offer to NATO may involve sending “defensive weapons to Estonia” as well as doubling the number of British troops on the ground. London is also considering sending in military specialists, warships and “fast jets” to reinforce its NATO allies. Downing Street did not specify where exactly, apart from Estonia, the cited assets might go.
“The UK already has more than 900 British military personnel based in Estonia, more than 100 in Ukraine as part of Operation Orbital, and a Light Cavalry Squadron of around 150 people is deployed to Poland,” it said in the statement, adding that, since 2015, some “22,000 Ukrainian troops” have been trained under that operation. Additional “military trainers” were sent to Ukraine earlier in January along with a haul of British-made anti-tank missiles, to teach the Ukrainian service personnel how to use the weaponry.
The details of the NATO deal are expected to get fleshed out next week, with UK officials “deployed to Brussels” to discuss London’s offer with other NATO allies. The potential deployment “will reinforce NATO’s defences and underpin the UK’s support for Nordic and Baltic partners,” London stressed.
At the same time, the UK signaled it was still willing to engage in diplomacy with Moscow, insisting that without its efforts “thousands of lives will be lost in both Russia and Ukraine.”
“The Prime Minister is expected to speak to President Putin and travel to the region early this week to relay that message in person,” Downing Street revealed.
Over the past few months, Western media and top officials have repeatedly sounded alarm over an allegedly imminent Russian “invasion” of Ukraine. Moscow, however, has consistently denied harboring any plans to attack its neighbor, with the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissing such claims as “groundless.”
Movements of Russian troops in the relative vicinity of the Ukrainian border has been cited as the only ‘proof’ of the looming aggression alleged, with Russia pointing out it is in its full right to move its military wherever it pleases across the country’s own territory.