Falklands/Malvinas: UK sends more troops to islands amid ‘increased threat’ from Argentina

Reuters / Enrique Marcarian
British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon is expected to announce a “significant increase” in troop defenses stationed on Falkland Islands amid fears of a heightened threat from Argentina.

Argentina is feared to be increasing its military expenditure 33 years after the Falklands/Malvinas war, according to reports. Russian President Vladimir Putin is said to be working on a deal to lease 12 long-range bombers to the Latin American country.

Fallon told BBC Breakfast: “We have been reviewing our defense arrangements of the Falklands where there is obviously a continuing threat even 30 years after the Falklands war. I’m going to be announcing in parliament how we are going to beef up the defense of Falkland Islands – obviously I can’t go into details before I tell parliament.”

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, Fallon was asked whether the threat to the islands had increased, following reports that Russia was planning to lease the bombers to Argentina.

“That particular deal hasn’t been confirmed, but all I can say is that the threat remains,” Fallon said. “It is a very live threat and I am responding to it this afternoon.”

The increase in personnel and equipment will boost the 1,200 troops already stationed on the Falklands, along with four RAF Typhoon jets, a small fleet of Sea King helicopters and a Rapier anti-aircraft missile battery.

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Fallon said: “We do need to modernize our defenses there, to ensure we have sufficient troops and that the islands are properly defended in terms of air and maritime defense ... The islanders have the right to remain British and have the right to proper protection.”

“Argentina still sadly maintains its claim to the islands even 30 years or more after the original invasion and the war. We have to respond to that.”

Regarding reports of Fallon’s announcement to send troops to the Falklands, a Whitehall source told the Sun: “The Defense Secretary’s decision reflects operational judgments and the increased nature of the threat.

“We want the people of the Falklands to know they are uppermost in our thinking.”

Sir Gerald Howarth MP, a Tory former defense minister, said he was “delighted” the government was demonstrating its “unwavering commitment to the Falkland Islands so Argentina can be left in no doubt they are British sovereign territory and are deterred from repeating the folly of 1982.”

Arturo Puricelli, Argentina's defense minister, has previously declared on state TV: “We don't want [the British] to come here to make this unnecessary show of military strength. We have no doubt at all that we are going to recover our Malvinas islands. The international community will support us.”

In Argentina, the Falkland Islands are known as the 'Islas Malvinas.'

The dispute between the UK and Argentina over the sovereignty of the islands has reemerged in recent years under President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.