Britain

Around 8,000 British troops to take part in biggest deployment in eastern Europe since Cold War

The UK is sending around 8,000 of its troops to take part in exercises across eastern Europe in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The historic move, which will also see dozens of tanks deployed to countries ranging from Finland to North Macedonia this summer, will mark the largest deployment in Europe since the Cold War.

The thousands of British troops will be joined by tens of thousands of troops from Nato and the Joint Expeditionary Force alliance, which includes Finland and Sweden.

The plans have been in the works for a long time, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), but it had been enhanced in response in light of what Russia calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

Commander Field Army lieutenant general Ralph Wooddisse said: “The UK makes a significant contribution to the defence of Europe and the deterrence of Russian aggression. The British Army’s series of exercises is fundamental to both.

“The scale of the deployment, coupled with the professionalism, training and agility of the British Army, will deter aggression at a scale not seen in Europe this century.”

Britain’s deployment is expected to build to a peak of around 8,000 personnel operating in mainland Europe between April and June.

Defence secretary Ben Wallace said: “The security of Europe has never been more important. These exercises will see our troops join forces with allies and partners across Nato and the Joint Expeditionary Force in a show of solidarity and strength in one of the largest shared deployments since the Cold War.”

Meanwhile, troops from the Queen’s Royal Hussars have been deployed to Finland – which shares an 830-mile land border with Russia – for embedding in an armoured brigade.

Exercises alongside American troops are also taking place in Poland.

It comes as the US House of Representatives today passed legislation by 417 to 10 that will make it easier to export military equipment to Ukraine, reviving the “Lend-Lease Act” that helped defeat Hitler during the Second World War.

It will next go to the White House for President Joe Biden to sign into law.

The measure will allow Washington to lend or lease military equipment to US allies. In this case, it will help those affected by Russia’s invasion, such as Poland and other eastern European countries including Ukraine.

“Today the Ukrainian people are standing on the front lines in the fight for democracy and against tyranny, and the US needs to provide them with every possible measure of humanitarian and military aid,” Democratic representative Mary Gay Scanlon said, urging support for the bill.

Among other provisions, the bill would allow the United States to provide equipment to Ukraine now with just a technical requirement to pay at some later date – essentially giving it to the Kyiv government.

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