Liz Truss challenged on UK's plans for Russian Invasion
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Over recent months, Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops, tanks, artillery and missiles near its border with Ukraine. Moscow denies it intends to invade the former Soviet republic, but NATO forces are increasingly nervous, with the military bloc preparing for a potential fight at its European borders.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to have approved the deployment of more than 1,000 extra troops to eastern Europe, as well as additional jets and warships to the region.
This fresh influx of military might in the region will add to the thousands of NATO troops already standing in the event of a Russian invasion in Ukraine.
The UK has said any Russian incursion into Ukraine would be met with swift sanctions and would be devastating for both sides.
Over the weekend, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss warned there was a “real threat” of a Russian invasion.
However, she added it was “very unlikely” that British forces would be deployed to fight in a conflict on the ground, claiming British forces in the region aimed to support NATO allies close to the conflict.
How are the forces building up?
The UK has deployed Apache attack helicopters to the Baltics, a battery of rocket launchers to Estonia, an RAF squadron to Romanian and Bulgarian airspace, and a Type 45 destroyer and offshore vessels to the Black Sea. This is in addition to 1,000 troops being sent to join the 900 already in Estonia, as well as a light cavalry squadron numbering about 150 in Poland.
The United States has placed 8,500 troops on “high alert” for deployment to eastern Europe.
France has some 4,000 troops in place in Romania and has offered more.
Unlike its NATO counterparts, Germany has declined to send arms. It has sent a field hospital, a bunker, and 5,000 helmets to Ukraine.
Spain has sent a warship to the Black Sea and has offered to send jets to Bulgaria.
Denmark is sending a frigate to the Baltic Sea and has dispatched four F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania.
The Netherlands has one ship and land-based units on standby and is sending two F-35 fighter aircraft to Bulgaria.
Within the conflict zone itself, Russia has amassed more than 100,000 troops, tanks, artillery and missiles, while Ukraine has more than 200,000 active troops and 900,000 reservists.
Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said there would be a “high price to pay” if Russia decided “to use force”.
He said: “The more aggressive they are, the more NATO [presence] they will get at the borders.”
Russia is seeking promises from NATO countries that Ukraine will never be allowed to join the 30-country military alliance designed to protect and aid member states in the event of an attack.
Russia is said to view NATO countries — some of which border Russia — as a direct threat to its security.
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Mr Stoltenberg said Ukraine was still not a member of NATO and therefore there were “no plans to deploy NATO combat troops”.
However, NATO said that a “sovereign, independent and stable Ukraine, firmly committed to democracy and the rule of law, is key to Euro-Atlantic security”, calling Ukraine one of the “most substantial NATO partnerships”.
Cooperation between Ukraine and NATO intensified after the 2014 Russia-Ukraine conflict, which saw the southern Crimea peninsula annexed and led to the ongoing conflict in the Donbas region.
In a press release, NATO said: “From the very beginning of the Russia-Ukraine conflict in 2014, NATO has adopted a firm position in full support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders…
“In parallel to its political support to Ukraine, NATO has significantly stepped up its practical assistance to Ukraine.”
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