Vehicles from the UK will join Nato’s eastern flank in Germany a decade after British troops were asked to pull out to focus on Afghanistan and Iraq. The decision follows the increased Russian military presence around Ukraine that could precede an invasion similar to what happened in Crimea in 2014.
A Whitehall security source told The Telegraph that Russia’s military activity on Ukraine’s border was “aggressive” and “worrying”.
The UK has had tanks and other armoured vehicles based in Estonia for five years as part of Nato’s Enhanced Forward Presence mission to deter Russia.
Under the new plans, extra tanks will be based at Sennelager, Germany, in the Nato Forward Holding Facility.
No additional troops will be posted back to Germany, reports The Telegraph.
Instead, units will rotate through Sennelager using the tanks on exercise or preparing them for deployment to Estonia.
Russia has been keeping an eye on NATO’s latest moves in Eastern Europe as revealed by Fyodor Lukyanov, chairman of the board of the Russian Foreign Affairs Council, which advises the Kremlin, in an article he published on Wednesday.
He wrote: “This recent round of escalation in Eastern Europe showed that the old principles of security on the continent are no longer working.”
“Russia will have to change the system and draw new ‘red lines’,” he said, mentioning a post-war deal between the Soviet Union and Finland, under which Moscow recognised Finland’s independence in return for Helsinki’s neutrality in the Cold War.
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The Government’s Integrated Review of foreign, defence, security and development policy, which was delivered earlier this year, cut Army troop numbers from 82,500 to 73,000.
The Defence Secretary said: “That does mean we will have fewer soldiers, but it also means we will have an honest Armed Forces that does what it says on the side of the tin rather than boast about having lots of people and equipment that is 20 years out of date.”
He added: “When I went to Salisbury Plain in November and stood amongst an armoured brigade on exercise, apart from better communications and a few laser range-finders, it was entirely the same as one I’d been in 1991.”
“It really reminded me how far behind our land forces have fallen.”
That’s why Mr Wallace announced that an extra £8 billion would be used to buy new tanks and helicopters over the next decade, on top of the £40 billion already announced for new kit.