British Troops to Bolster Baltic Buffer Against Russia

Soldiers Disembarking from a Chinook Helicopter, Feb. 12, 2013From Sam Jones, Financial Times:  Britain is to join Germany and the US in committing to long-term troop deployments in the Baltic states to deter Russian aggression and shore up Nato’s eastern borders.

Michael Fallon, the UK defence secretary, will announce the commitment on Thursday when he meets other Nato defence ministers in Brussels for the alliance’s quarterly ministerial council.

The length of the troop deployment will be open-ended but on a rotational basis — a formulation that will allow the US, Britain and Germany to avoid accusations that they are breaching agreements struck with Moscow after the end of the cold war over permanent troop placements in former eastern bloc nations….

“We are already deploying RAF jets to the Baltics and providing crucial training to the Ukrainian armed forces,” Mr Fallon plans to say. “Now we will have a more regular drumbeat of troops deploying in the Baltics and Poland.”

The defence secretary will also announce further details of plans to scale up Britain’s current training mission for Ukrainian armed forces.

There are currently about 75 British military trainers in western Ukraine, running a programme that has so far worked with 1,600 Ukrainian troops. Mr Fallon announced plans in August to double the capabilities of the project.

The British Baltic deployment will, meanwhile, form part of a US-German plan agreed in June, known as the Transatlantic Capability Enhancement and Training initiative. The plan is designed to increase training and command-and-control exercises between Germany, the US and less militarily capable European allies.

From Frances Perraudin, Guardian:  Those UK service personnel would be part of a new Nato training, evaluation and capacity-building mission in Poland and Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, he said. “They will be part of a more persistent presence by Nato forces.”

The troops will join German and US troops already there and the commitment will initially comprise about 100 troops.

Image: Soldiers Disembarking from a Chinook Helicopter, Feb. 12, 2013 (photo: UK Ministry of Defense)