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
A Royal Anglian Regiment soldier deployed on Operation Cabrit in Estonia in 2021 (Picture: MOD).
NATO

Troops, jets and warships: UK considers new offer to NATO amid Russia tensions

Boris Johnson says a military package bound for Eastern Europe would "send a clear message to the Kremlin".

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
A Royal Anglian Regiment soldier deployed on Operation Cabrit in Estonia in 2021 (Picture: MOD).

A major British military deployment is expected to become part of the UK’s offer to NATO, as tensions rise on Ukraine’s border with Russia.

Warships, fast jets and military specialists could all be part of a package for Eastern Europe being considered by Boris Johnson and due to be discussed by ministers on Monday.

There is also potential for the British troop force of 900 to be doubled in Estonia and for more defensive weaponry to arrive in the Baltic state.

Personnel numbers in other eastern European nations could also be increased. The UK currently has around 100 trainers in Ukraine and 150 servicemen and women in Poland.

UK officials will head to Brussels to finalise the details of the offer next week, as the presence of roughly 100,000 Russian troops near Ukraine continues to heighten fears of an invasion.

Watch: Where is NATO deployed in Europe?

Boris Johnson said: "This package would send a clear message to the Kremlin – we will not tolerate their destabilising activity, and we will always stand with our NATO allies in the face Russian hostility.

"If President Putin chooses a path of bloodshed and destruction, it will be a tragedy for Europe. Ukraine must be free to choose its own future.

"I have ordered our Armed Forces to prepare to deploy across Europe next week, ensuring we are able to support our NATO allies on land, at sea and in the air."

The Prime Minister already plans to speak with Vladimir Putin over the phone and visit the Russia-Ukraine region in the coming days.

British personnel in Estonia are leading Operation Cabrit, one of four battlegroups under NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence also deterring Russian aggression in Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

The UK also has over 100 rotated personnel in Ukraine itself, sharing key medical and infantry skills with thousands of students, including volunteers, on Operation Orbital.

Watch: What does Russia want from NATO?

Within the mission framework, extra troops were sent earlier this month to train Ukrainian forces on light anti-armour defensive weapons provided by the UK.

Poland currently hosts 150 British personnel, while aircraft carrier HMS Prince of Wales is in the High North, leading NATO’s Maritime High Readiness Force – on standby and capable of moving within hours if needed.

Russia has denied claims it seeks to invade, though Moscow is against NATO memberships expansion to Ukraine and Georgia.

Writing in The Telegraph on Saturday, Armed Forces minister James Heappey said, "Ukraine is not a Nato member and we will not play an active part in any conflict that happens there."

He went to describe tough sanctions on Russia in place of such intervention.

Mr Heappey continued: "Ukraine doesn’t need the West to make this the deadliest of conflicts. They’ll fight for every inch of their country, and if it’s taken, they’ll fight on through a resistance movement that will last indefinitely."

"The population of Ukraine is 40 times bigger and its military is vastly better equipped," he added.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme it is "very unlikely" there is any scenario in which British soldiers will fight on the ground alongside Ukrainians, but that support across intelligence, hardware and cyber remains the focus.