OP CABRIT Estonia Royal Anglian Regiment soldier deployed on Op CABRIT firing a Heavy Machine Gun from a Jackal during a Live Fire exercise  010921 CREDIT MOD
File photo of a British soldier taking part in a live-fire exercise while deployed to Estonia (Picture: MOD).
Russia

Russian Embassy claims UK Armed Forces are 'aggressively advanced' towards its borders

The embassy also accused British military chiefs of "openly stating their intent to achieve some sort of military presence in the Arctic".

OP CABRIT Estonia Royal Anglian Regiment soldier deployed on Op CABRIT firing a Heavy Machine Gun from a Jackal during a Live Fire exercise  010921 CREDIT MOD
File photo of a British soldier taking part in a live-fire exercise while deployed to Estonia (Picture: MOD).

The Russian Embassy to London has claimed the UK Armed Forces are "aggressively advanced towards our borders in Poland and Estonia" amid heightened tensions in the region.

The accusations come as tensions between Russia and the West continue to rise over fears of a Russian invasion into neighbouring Ukraine.

US intelligence officials say Russia has stationed about 70,000 troops close to the border and has begun planning for a possible invasion as soon as early next year.  

British troops are deployed to Estonia and Poland as part of existing NATO missions designed to deter potential Russian aggression.

Extra troops are being deployed to Poland and Lithuania amid tensions at the countries' borders with Russian ally Belarus.

The Russian Embassy statement, published on Saturday, said: "While Russia does not have a slightest intention to attack Ukraine, the situation in [the] Ukrainian civil war is indeed getting more explosive, with the irresponsible and unreserved military support some NATO countries and the UK, in particular, are giving to Kiev.

"No wonder there is no advance in peace settlement in Donbass, which is apparently of no interest to the West."

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: "Our commitment to European security is unwavering and we will always offer support to our allies."

The embassy also accused British military chiefs of "openly stating their intent to achieve some sort of military presence in the Arctic".

Last week, the Defence Secretary spoke about the need for UK forces to be ready to fight in the Arctic.

Ben Wallace during visit to Swedish Lapland where he affirmed UK commitment to region 091221 CREDIT MOD
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace during a visit to Swedish Lapland last week (Picture: MOD).

"We need to learn and be able to deploy rapidly to the High North if we need to support our allies," Mr Wallace told the Times during a visit to Swedish Lapland where he affirmed the UK's commitment to the region.

He also said he would carry an "Arctic strategy" next year to work out where troops should be deployed, the Times reported, and warned of "growing threats and competition" in the region.

The warming of the planet has prompted fears that countries, such as Russia, could seek to take advantage of the Arctic's rich natural resources as climate change makes the area increasingly accessible.

Russia has also been expanding its icebreaker fleet and is thought to have reopened a number of previously closed Soviet-era military bases across the polar region.

The statement from the Russian Embassy was made in response to comments made around the G7 Summit in Liverpool between Friday and Sunday.

Watch: NATO chief warns of 'serious consequences' for Russia if it uses force against Ukraine.

The embassy accused UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss of overusing the term "Russian aggression", saying it "took note of a number of social media statements".

"The overuse of the term "Russian aggression" is particularly evident and deliberate, highlighting British G7 presidency's obsession with finding a common cause for "a show of unity", the embassy said in a statement on Saturday.

"The repeated accusation itself is a cause for concern, as it misleads the followers.

"It is important to reiterate that 'the eventual Russian aggression against Ukraine' is a bogus slogan, which the British politicians and loyal media seem to pull out of their hats one time too many."

Ms Truss' Twitter account used the specific phrase "Russian aggression" twice over Friday and Saturday.

However, she did also label Russia as an 'aggressor' and accused Russia of "aggressive rhetoric towards Ukraine" in tweets during the weekend.

Russian Embassy in London
The Russian Embassy in London.

A joint statement after the summit on Sunday from the foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, UK, US and High Representative of the EU called on Russia to "de-escalate".

The statement said they were "united in our condemnation of Russia's military build-up and aggressive rhetoric towards Ukraine".

"Any use of force to change borders is strictly prohibited under international law. Russia should be in no doubt that further military aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and severe cost in response."

The Russian embassy said "Russia has made numerous offers to NATO on ways to decrease tensions".

"The G7 forum could be an opportunity to discuss them, but so far we hear nothing but aggressive slogans," it said on Saturday.