UK announces largest military deployment to Nato exercises in decades

NEW DELHI: Britain will deploy 20,000 armed forces personnel to participate in one of Nato’s largest exercises since the Cold War, defence secretary Grant Shapps announced on Monday, expressing concerns about increasing threats to the Western-led alliance, particularly by Russian President Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine.
The UK’s deployment to Nato, which is the largest in four decades, aims at “providing vital reassurance” over the “menace” posed by Russian President Vladimir Putin following his invasion of Ukraine, Shapps said.
Personnels from the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, and Army will join forces with personnel from 31 other member countries and Sweden, a candidate for Nato membership, for the military alliance’s “Exercise Steadfast Defender”. The British contingent will be distributed across Europe and beyond.
Emphasizing growing dangers faced by the international rules-based order, Shapps said, “Today’s Nato is bigger than ever but the challenges are bigger too.”
“And that’s why the UK has committed… the totality of our air, land and maritime assets to NATO”, he added.
“In 2024 I am determined to do even more and that’s why I can announce today the UK will send in some 20,000 personnel to lead one of NATO’s largest deployments since the end of the Cold War,” Shapps further said.
The UK deployment will include fighter jets, surveillance aircraft, advanced warships, submarines, and a full range of army capabilities, including special operations forces.
A Carrier Strike Group, featuring an aircraft carrier and F-35B fighter jets and helicopters, will be sent to the North Atlantic, Norwegian Sea, and Baltic Sea for the exercises. Additionally, 16,000 soldiers will be deployed across eastern Europe from next month to June, equipped with tanks, artillery, helicopters, and parachutes.
Calling out on the Western allies to face China, Iran, North Korea and Russia, Shapps said, “It’s been replaced by a period of hard-headed realism,” further adding that Nato’s adversaries “are more connected with each other” than ever and Western allies “stand at a crossroads”.
Addressing the joint UK-US strikes against Iran-backed Huthi rebels last week, Shapps said that the strikes were intended “as a single action”.
On being asked if the action was planned, Shapps said, “I can’t predict the future for you.”
“We will not put up with a major waterway… being closed on a permanent basis” to international shipping, Shapps added. Source

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