In view of the Russian troop presence on the border with Ukraine, the British government is considering sending hundreds more soldiers to the Baltic States and Poland, according to a report. This is intended to increase deterrence against Russia, the Times newspaper reported, citing a source in the Ministry of Defense in London.
Currently, 830 British troops are stationed in Estonia, with another 140 in Poland as part of a NATO mission. The additional units could be deployed quickly should NATO allies in Eastern Europe face an increased troop presence from Russia on their border, the paper quoted the source as saying.
About 100 British troops are currently deployed in Ukraine on a training mission, according to the paper. About 30 more were recently sent to train the Ukrainian army in the use of some 2,000 anti-tank missiles that London sent to Ukraine.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, meanwhile, warned Russian President Vladimir Putin against making a "huge strategic mistake." Russia will have to pay a heavy price for a Russian attack on Ukraine, Truss said during a speech in Sydney, Australia, Friday. "We are prepared to impose significant sanctions," Truss said.
Even if the Russian military has the upper hand in the conflict with Ukraine, Moscow's army also faces heavy losses in the event of an invasion, Truss warned. "Ukraine is a proud country with a long history," she stressed. "If they have to, Ukrainians will fight to defend their country."
The Kremlin has not learned from history, and is trying to recreate the Soviet Union or some kind of Greater Russia, Truss said. An invasion of Ukraine will "only lead to a terrible mess and loss of life, as we know from the Soviet-Afghan war and the conflict in Chechnya," she warned.
Britain is among those Western countries that export arms to Ukraine. These include anti-tank missiles that can inflict serious damage on the other side.
During her visit to Australia, Truss also drew a connection between the Ukraine conflict and the strengthening of authoritarian systems around the world - literally mentioning China - that are trying to "export their dictatorship." "Together with our allies, we will stand with Ukraine and call on Russia to de-escalate and participate in meaningful talks," Truss stressed. "What happens in Eastern Europe matters to the entire world?"
The West has been threatening Moscow with massive sanctions for weeks if the Russian army attacks Ukraine. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is currently in Europe in search of a diplomatic way out of the crisis. This Friday, he will meet with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov in Geneva. Blinken had already visited Kiev on Wednesday, and on Thursday he coordinated with European allies at a meeting of foreign ministers in Berlin.
War has been raging in eastern Ukraine between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian army since 2014. The West accuses Moscow of providing military support to the separatists, which the Kremlin denies. More than 13,000 people have already been killed in the conflict. Next week, according to Duma President Vyacheslav Volodin, the Russian parliament will address the possible recognition of the territories that broke away from Ukraine. At issue, he said, are the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics. There are concerns about the safety of Russians living there, Volodin said.
Photo by Chuanchai Pundej