The UK will send a battle group to take part in major military training, Exercise Black Eagle, in October as part of a NATO package to reassure allies in eastern Europe. The full battle group will comprise of 1,350 personnel and more than 350 armoured and other vehicles.
Defence Secretary Michael Fallon made the announcement today during a visit to Warsaw with Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.
This new commitment is Britain’s largest to the region since 2008 and is one of a planned series of NATO manoeuvres due to take place throughout the autumn in support of allies in Eastern Europe and the Baltic states.
As part of a sustained commitment since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, the UK has deployed RAF Typhoon jets to the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, as well as participating in smaller scale army exercises across Europe. At the end of August light infantry troops from 1st Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment will take part in Exercise Sabre Junction, a US-led exercise involving 16 NATO and partner nations which is also taking place in Poland.
The Defence Secretary said:
It is right that NATO members and partners demonstrate our commitment to the collective security of our allies in Eastern Europe, so I am pleased to confirm our participation in these exercises. In particular, the commitment of a battle group to Exercise Black Eagle shows our sustained and substantial support to NATO’s eastern border.
On the 4-5 September this year NATO will hold a summit in Wales. The event will be a central platform for member nations to discuss how to equip the alliance to respond to future threats and agree more reassurance measures. The summit will be one of the most important in NATO’s history, coming at a significant moment for the Alliance as the combat mission in Afghanistan draws to a close and, as events in Ukraine and Iraq have shown, the world faces more complex threats than ever before.
Mr Fallon added:
We have a strong opportunity at the NATO summit to discuss how we will continue our response to Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and its destabilisation of eastern Ukraine. The UK is playing a central role and we are not ruling out further enhancements.