Ukraine war: UK ‘highly likely’ to add hundreds more troops to NATO force in Estonia to help deter Russia, defence secretary says | World News

Britain’s Defense Secretary has revealed it is “highly likely” that hundreds of extra troops will be added to a NATO force in Estonia tasked with deterring Russia, but some may be stationed in their home country, the foreign minister said. British room revealed.

Ben Wallace said the allies were looking at scaling up the network of military units deployed on the alliance’s eastern flank – a presence that has since been significantly bolstered. Russiainvasion of Ukraine in February.

Britain leads the so-called Enhanced Forward Presence unit in Estonia, with two combat groups, each consisting of nearly 1,000 servicemen.

Adding a third battle group will turn it into a brigade.

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Such a move is likely to be completed ahead of a landmark summit of NATO heads of state and government later this month in Spain.

“Most likely, when we get to Madrid, we’ll find a way to allocate a brigade to those two combat groups,” Wallace told Sky News.

“That doesn’t necessarily mean that they will always be in Estonia, they can also return to the UK. But their command and control and indeed their forward units will most likely be in the UK. Estonia where they are.”

This meant the establishment of a brigade-led headquarters in the Baltic state.

Other allies are likely to make similar commitments.

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NATO increases weapons for Ukraine

One – Germany – already has, announced it will commission a 3,500-strong brigade-sized force for the NATO unit it leads based in Lithuania.

Unlike the UK, however, the majority of German personnel are expected to live in their home country rather than in the country they are tasked with protecting.

Mr. Wallace said there was a face-to-face discussion about how many NATO troops should be sent forward and how many would be stationed at home and deployed only during a crisis. The people back home will still be training for the mission.

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The alliance has had Enhanced Presence forward units in the Baltic states and Poland since 2017 – the NATO countries seeing the greatest risk from Russia because of their proximity to each other. This year, they added a battle group for other allies, similarly said to need a larger deterrent force. They include Romania, Hungary, Slovakia and Bulgaria.

“The main areas of discussion are how we’re going to allocate our forces – how permanent, how deployed, versus how ready, will be the main areas of discussion,” Wallace told a group of reporters. .

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets with NATO troops after a joint press conference at Army Base Tapa, in Tallinn, Estonia March 1, 2022. Leon Neal / Pool via REUTERS
Boris Johnson meets with NATO troops at Tapa Army Base, in Tallinn, Estonia, in March

He was speaking at NATO headquarters in Brussels after a two-day meeting of alliance defense ministers.

NATO allies are expected to lay out plans to strengthen their deterrence against Russia at the Madrid summit as well as other key issues such as long-standing support for Ukraine, which is not a member. block member.

More detailed work on deterrence forces, their size and composition, will be drawn up later in the year by US General Tod Walters, Supreme Allied Commander Europe, the US’s top military commander. NATO.

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