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UK to propose to NATO a large deployment of troops to Ukraine

The United Kingdom will propose to NATO a “large” deployment of troops, warships, and fighter planes in Europe, to respond to the increase in “Russian hostility” towards Ukraine, the British Prime Minister announced today.

According to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s office, quoted by Agence France Presse, this proposal, which should be made at a meeting of NATO military chiefs next week, could make London double the British contingent of around 1,150. soldiers currently deployed in Eastern Europe and provide Estonia with “defensive weapons”.

“This set of measures would send a clear message to the Kremlin – we will not tolerate its destabilizing activity and we will always side with NATO allies in the face of Russian hostility,” reads a statement released today.

“I have ordered our armed forces to prepare to send troops to Europe next week, in order to be able to provide land, air, and naval support to our NATO allies”, underlined Boris Johnson.

If Russian President Vladimir Putin chose the path “of bloodshed and destruction in Ukraine, it would be a tragedy for the whole of Europe”, he added, considering that “Ukraine must remain free to choose its own future”.

Boris Johnson, who has been under intense political pressure for several weeks over a series of scandals sparked by holding parties on Downing Street during the lockdowns, said on Friday he would call Vladimir Putin to urge him to “step back” and to become more involved in diplomatic channels over Ukraine.

The head of the British government is expected to travel to that region in the coming days.

On January 25, Russia’s western and southern military districts announced the start of exercises to check the combat readiness of their troops.

However, Russia today announced the completion of exercises in the western military district (DMO), which includes border areas with Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic countries, and Finland, and the return of units to their barracks.

Authorities in Kyiv and the West have accused Russia of having concentrated around 100,000 troops on its border with Ukraine with the intention of re-invading the neighboring country, after annexing Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula in 2014.

Russia denied that intention but said it felt threatened by NATO’s 20-year expansion into eastern Europe and western support for Ukraine.

Ukraine has been embroiled in a war with pro-Russian separatists in the country’s eastern industrial region of Donbass since 2014, which it says is fueled and militarily supported by Moscow.

Source: with agencies

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